3

After 31 Years, Finally

The sequel to Return of the Jedi will be released in December of 2015, titled Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

What makes this different from the previous three Star Wars prequels?  George Lucas had almost nothing to do with the making of the film.  Yes, no more Ewoks or Jar Jar Binks, or any other poor attempts at young children product placements that ultimately killed each prequel and Return of the Jedi.

Yes, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back are in my opinion the best of the bunch.  Great special effects, storyline, and action.  Only to stumble with Return of the Jedi and the three prequels being prevented from being timeless classics.

The first trailer was produced for American audiences, the second trailer was made for the rest of the world.

What to look for?  Storm Troopers have a slightly redesigned appearance, the light saber now has two ‘light handle bars’, a Darth Sith “may” have survived from Return of the Jedi, and a few more minor tweaks to let you figure out.

Enjoy!

 

16

Riot Queen

Riot Queen

We last encountered Darlena Cunha when she wrote a column in the Washington Post in which she complained about feeling judged when she went to pick up government handouts in her Mercedes.  Go here to read about that unintentionally hilarious foray into obtuseness and entitlement.  Now she speaks up in Time Magazine in favor of the rioters and arsonists in Ferguson, Missouri:

When a police officer shoots a young, unarmed black man in the streets, then does not face indictment, anger in the community is inevitable. It’s what we do with that anger that counts. In such a case, is rioting so wrong?

Riots are a necessary part of the evolution of society. Unfortunately, we do not live in a universal utopia where people have the basic human rights they deserve simply for existing, and until we get there, the legitimate frustration, sorrow and pain of the marginalized voices will boil over, spilling out into our streets. As “normal” citizens watch the events of Ferguson unfurl on their television screens and Twitter feeds, there is a lot of head shaking, finger pointing, and privileged explanation going on. We wish to seclude the incident and the people involved. To separate it from our history as a nation, to dehumanize the change agents because of their bad and sometimes violent decisions—because if we can separate the underlying racial tensions that clearly exist in our country from the looting and rioting of select individuals, we can continue to ignore the problem. Continue Reading

1

Advent Sermons of Saint Thomas Aquinas-First Sunday in Advent

I can think of no finer guide for us as we proceed through Advent this year than the Angelic Doctor.  Here is a sermon he wrote for the First Sunday in Advent:

“Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek,” &c. — S. Matt. xxi. 5.

THIS is a prophecy of the Advent of Our Lord Jesus Christ, about which there are three signs.

 

First, the dignity of Him Who is coming; secondly, the utility of His Advent; thirdly, the manner in which He came.

 

Of the first sign we read in the Gospel, “Thy King cometh;” a merciful King; a just King; a wise King; a terrible King; an omnipotent King; an eternal King. A merciful King in sparing; a just in judging; a good in rewarding; a wise in governing; an omnipotent King in defending the good; a terrible King in punishing the evil; an eternal King in ruling eternally, and in bestowing immortality. Of the first, Isa. xvi. 5, “And in mercy shall the throne be established.”

 

Of the second, Isa. xxxiv., “And behold, a King shall reign in justice;” Isa. xvi. 5, “And He shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David.”

 

Of the third, Ps. Ixxiii. 1, “Truly God, is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.”

 

Of the fourth, Jer. xxiii. 5, “I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute justice and judgment in the earth.”

 

Of the fifth, Esth. xiii. 9, “Lord, Lord, the King Almighty, for the whole world is in Thy power.”

 

Of the sixth, Wis. xi. 10, “As a severe King, Thou didst condemn and punish.”

 

Of the seventh, Jer. x. 10, ” But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God and an everlasting King ;” S. Luke i. 33, ” And of His Kingdom there shall be no end.”

Of the seven, collectively, 2 Macc. i. 24, “O Lord, Lord, God, Creator of all things, Who art fearful, and strong, and righteous, and merciful, and the only gracious King.” Wisdom in the Creator, mercy in the pitiful, goodness in the good, justice in the just, severity in the terrible, power in the powerful, eternity in the eternal. Continue Reading

November 30, 1864: Battle of Franklin

Battle of Franklin

With Sherman embarking on his March to the Sea, John Bell Hood and his Army of Tennessee were left confronting the Union forces in Tennessee, some sixty thousand troops to the 39,000 under Hood.  The odds were actually longer than that, as Union control of the railroads and rivers of Tennessee would allow rapid Union reinforcement in Tennessee if necessary.  Hood decided that his only option for victory was to take Tennessee from the Union.  This was the longest of long shots, but at this stage of the War no Confederate commander had strategic options that could be called anything other than bleak.  Hood’s plan at least had his army taking the initiative, and he could hope for some massive Union blunders that might transform an impossible situation into one that gave him some hope of at least slowing what he no doubt perceived as an inevitable Union victory in the War.

Hood entered Tennessee on November 21, and his campaign began with some promise.  The Union forces were divided by 75 miles with Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland in Nashville, and Schofield and his Army of the Ohio, some 27,000 men, at Pulaski, Tennessee.

Hood did his best to bring Schofield to battle before he could unite with Thomas and succeeded in doing so on November 30 at Franklin, Tennessee, some 21 miles south of Nashville, after the Army of Tennessee missed a golden opportunity to destroy a portion of Schofield’s retreating force at Spring Hill the day before.

Schofield had abandoned his pontoon bridge during the retreat and thus his army fought the Battle of Franklin with its back to the Harpeth River, and potential annihilation if the Confederates could dislodge his defense.  Hood realized the opportunity that presented itself and ordered an all out assault that began at 4:00 PM.

Some of the most desperate fighting of the Civil War ensued.  An initial Confederate breakthrough in the Union center was sealed after ferocious combat, much of it hand to hand. Confederate attacks continued until 10:00 PM.  The unsuccessful attacks devastated the Army of the Tennessee.  Union total casualties of approximately 2,200 included 189 killed.  Confederate killed were ten times that number with total Confederate casualties of 6200.  The tenor of the Confederate losses is illustrated by their generals who were casualties that day.  Six Confederate generals died, including perhaps the best Confederate division commander, Major General Patrick Cleburne, seven Confederate generals were wounded and one was captured.  Schofield withdrew across the river that night and march his army to Nashville.  Hood followed with his army, now a pale reflection of the force that he led into battle the day before.  November 30, 1864 was the black day of the Army of Tennessee.

Here is the report of General Thomas on the battle: Continue Reading

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November 29, 1864: Sand Creek Massacre

John Chivington

 

 

On Novmber 29, 1864, in a stain on American honor, 700 men of the 1st Colorado Cavalry, 3rd Colorado Cavalry and a company of the 1st New Mexico Volunteer Cavalry, under the command of Colonel John M. Chivington, a Methodist minister turned soldier, attacked and slaughtered an encampment of peaceful Indians.  I cannot improve on the report of this massacre issued by the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War on January 10, 1865:

 

The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War submit the following report:

In the summer of 1864 Governor Evans, of Colorado Territory, as acting superintendent of Indian affairs, sent notice to the various bands and tribes of Indians within his jurisdiction that such as desired to be considered friendly to the whites should at once repair to the nearest military post in order to be protected from the soldiers who were to take the field against the hostile Indians.


About the close of the summer, some Cheyenne Indians, in the neighborhood of the Smoke Hills, sent word to Major Wynkoop, the commandant of the post of Fort Lyon, that they had in their possession, and were willing to deliver up, some white captives they had purchased of other Indians. Major Wynkoop, with a force of over 100 men, visited those Indians and received the white captives. On his return he was accompanied by a number of the chiefs and leading men of the Indians, whom he had invited to visit Denver for the purpose of conferring with the authorities there in regard to keeping peace. Among them were Black Kettle and White Antelope of the Cheyennes, and some chiefs of the Arapahoes. The council was held, and these chiefs stated that they were friendly to the whites, and always had been, and that they desired peace. Governor Evans and Colonel Chivington, the commander of that military district, advised them to repair to Fort Lyon and submit to whatever terms the military commander there should impose. This was done by the Indians, who were treated somewhat as prisoners of war, receiving rations, and being obliged to remain within certain bounds.

 

All the testimony goes to show that the Indians, under the immediate control of Black Kettle and White Antelope of the Cheyennes, and Left Hand of the Arapahoes, were and had been friendly to the whites, and had not been guilty of any acts of hostility or depredation. The Indian agents, the Indian interpreter and others examined by your committee, all testify to the good character of those Indians. Even Governor Evans and Major Anthony, though evidently willing to convey to your committee a false impression of the character of those Indians, were forced, in spite of their prevarication, to admit that they knew of nothing they had done which rendered them deserving of punishment. Continue Reading

2

God of Our Fathers

Something for the weekend.  God of Our Fathers.  Written in 1876 to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it reminds each American how fortunate we are to live in this land.

 

God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.

Thy love divine hath led us in the past,
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast;
Be Thou our ruler, guardian, guide and stay,
Thy Word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase,
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never-ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.

America is a wonderful place, even when we acknowledge her flaws.  I think one of the best tributes to America is contained in Stephen Vincent Benet’s The Devil and Daniel Webster, when he describes Daniel Webster addressing the Jury of the Damned: Continue Reading

1944 Thanksgiving Proclamation

 

Thanksgiving 1944 saw Americans fighting around the globe, with their families back home praying for their safety.  FDR recognized this with his 1944 Thanksgiving Proclamation:

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

 

In this year of liberation, which has seen so many millions freed from tyrannical rule, it is fitting that we give thanks with special fervor to our Heavenly Father for the mercies we have received individually and as a nation and for the blessings He has restored, through the victories of our arms and those of our allies, to His children in other lands.

For the preservation of our way of life from the threat of destruction; for the unity of spirit which has kept our Nation strong; for our abiding faith in freedom; and for the promise of an enduring peace, we should lift up our hearts in thanksgiving.

For the harvest that has sustained us and, in its fullness, brought succor to other peoples; for the bounty of our soil, which has produced the sinews of war for the protection of our liberties; and for a multitude of private blessings, known only in our hearts, we should give united thanks to God.

To the end that we may bear more earnest witness to our gratitude to Almighty God, I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures during the period from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas. Let every man of every creed go to his own version of the Scriptures for a renewed and strengthening contact with those eternal truths and majestic principles which have inspired such measure of true greatness as this nation has achieved.

Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of the Congress approved December 26, 1941, do hereby proclaim Thursday the twenty-third day of November 1944 a day of national thanksgiving; and I call upon the people of the United States to observe it by bending every effort to hasten the day of final victory and by offering to God our devout gratitude for His goodness to us and to our fellow men.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this first day of November in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-four and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and sixty-ninth.


FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

 

 

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Saint Basil of Caesarea

Saint Basil of Caesarea

 

 

Persecution has come upon us, right honourable brethren, and persecution in the severest form. Shepherds are persecuted that their flocks may be scattered. And the worst of all is that those who are being treated ill cannot accept their sufferings in proof of their testimony, nor can the people reverence the athletes as in the army of martyrs, because the name of Christians is applied to the persecutors. The one charge which is now sure to secure severe punishment is the careful keeping of the traditions of the Fathers.

Epistle 243 of Saint Basil of Caesarea

Pray for us Saint Basil.

Thanksgiving for the Troops

5And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, 6And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grieviously tormented. 7And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. 8And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. 9For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. 11And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: 12But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.

Matthew 8: 5-13

 

 

 

 

The American Catholic extends our heartfelt thanks to members of our military who are spending Thanksgiving far from home.  It is our prayer that you have a joyous day and that you return safely to your family and friends.

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Thanksgiving Proclamation: 1864

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

 

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions: Continue Reading

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The Pilgrims and Socialism

 

 

 

From  Of Plymouth Plantation, by Governor William Bradford:

All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. Continue Reading

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Not One Thin Dime

Dime

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas my bride and I usually send Christmas donations to groups we support.  This is the time when we also make a substitute donation to Catholic groups we endorse in lieu of contributing anything to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.  Despite window dressing efforts at reform, the CCHD is still in the business of handing out money, given by good-hearted Catholics who think they are contributing money to help people down on their luck, to left-wing pressure groups, many of whom espouse causes directly contrary to the teachings of the Church.

The Lepanto Institute gives us some details on just what a corrupt organization the CCHD is:

The newly launched Lepanto Institute published a report today, which shows a conflict of interest for Ralph McCloud, the Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

McCloud, who approves grants distributed to community organizing groups on behalf of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, is a member of the board of directors of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ).  Two affiliates of Interfaith Worker Justice received CCHD grants for fiscal year 2014-2015.

The IWJ philosophy is another issue of scandal for an organization that is part of the Catholic Church.

“Ralph McCloud was provided with the facts in 2012, with our showing that the leadership of Interfaith Worker Justice is filled with self-professed pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Marxists,” said Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute.  “By joining the board of directors of IWJ, McCloud has created for himself the very definition of a conflict of interest, and accepted the role of overseeing distribution of funds to an organization in conflict with the Catholic Church’s teaching.”

A report on the leadership of Interfaith Worker Justice is available here.

“In 2012, my colleagues and I published a report on one of the two IWJ affiliates that are currently receiving grants from the CCHD which are in violation of CCHD guidelines,” Hichborn said.

For Fiscal Year 2014-2015, two affiliates of Interfaith Worker Justice received grants from the CCHD totaling $85,000: Northwest Arkansas Workers Justice Center and The Micah Center.

“How can an individual serve the Church while sitting on the board of IWJ, and in fact approve grants for affiliates of this organization?  It seems impossible,” Hichborn concluded.  “Our Blessed Lord said that man cannot serve two masters, but in the case of IWJ and the CCHD, that is precisely what McCloud is trying to do.”

And this:

The Lepanto Institute issued a report exposing the activities of an organization which received a $35,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).  According to the report, the Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) launched its own gay straight alliance in 2014, participated in a homosexuality activism coordination event in 2013, and its director of operations signed a letter supporting same-sex marriage.

“CCHD grant guidelines are very clear.  CCHD says it will not fund organizations which are taking actions in violation of Catholic moral teaching,” said Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute.  “This is just one more in the long list of failures in the CCHD’s self-proclaimed rigorous screening process.”

The CCHD’s grant guidelines state, “Organizations that receive CCHD funds must not participate in or promote activities that contradict the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2357 specifically states, regarding homosexual acts, “under no circumstances can they be approved.”

“What’s perplexing is that in 2012, The Reform CCHD Now coalition sent a profile on the problems with NWBCCC to the Archdiocese of New York, and the response we received was that they decided not to fund that organization before we even sent them the letter,” said Hichborn.  “So, why are they funding them this year, now that it’s clear that things have gotten worse?” Continue Reading

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Did the Holy Spirit Have Some Help?

pope-selection-white-smoke_65226_600x450

 

 

It is a common trope of the defenders of the current Pope, that the Holy Spirit picks our popes.  They are wrong on that, as then Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out in an interview in 1997.   However, if the Holy Spirit did pick Pope Francis, apparently He had some help.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, helped to orchestrate a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign which led to the election of Pope Francis, a new biography claims.

 

 

The blog From Rome, explains why such electioneering could be a major problem for Pope Francis:

London, Nov. 25, 2014 — A remarkable letter to the editor, if ever there was one. A denial, which draws more attention, than the matter would otherwise merit.  In today’s Daily Telegraph Letter’s Page, print edition, Maggie Doherty, the press-secretary to Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, denies a key fact in the reporting by Austen Ivereigh, a British journalist who just published a book exposing a concerted effort among Cardinals of the Roman Church to canvass for votes on behalf of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in the days prior to the Conclave of March 2013, which elected the latter as successor to Pope Benedict XVI.  The on-line edition of the Telegraph has a short story about this, by John Bingham, which opens thus:

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, helped to orchestrate a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign which led to the election of Pope Francis, a new biography claims.

The Election of Pope Francis has seen a great deal more publicity than any in modern times, especially concerning the remarkable novelty of revelations coming from Cardinals themselves — remarkable, since according to papal law, to make such revelations is punished by automatic excommunication!

The papal law is Universi Dominici Gregis, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on the Feats of the Chair of St. Peter, February 22, 1996 A.D..  The key paragraphs regarding this excommunication are as follows:

  1. Those who, in accordance with the prescriptions of No. 46 of the present Constitution, carry out any functions associated with the election, and who directly or indirectly could in any way violate secrecy — whether by words or writing, by signs or in any other way — are absolutely obliged to avoid this, lest they incur the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See.
  2. In particular, the Cardinal electors are forbidden to reveal to any other person, directly or indirectly, information about the voting and about matters discussed or decided concerning the election of the Pope in the meetings of Cardinals, both before and during the time of the election. This obligation of secrecy also applies to the Cardinals who are not electors but who take part in the General Congregations in accordance with No. 7 of the present Constitution.

However, today’s denial regards another requirement of the papal law, regarding Conclaves: the express prohibition of canvassing for votes prior to the commencement of the Conclave.  John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution of 1996 makes that a high-crime, punishable by automatic excommunication.

  1. The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition. It is not my intention however to forbid, during the period in which the See is vacant, the exchange of views concerning the election.
  2. I likewise forbid the Cardinals before the election to enter into any stipulations, committing themselves of common accord to a certain course of action should one of them be elevated to the Pontificate. These promises too, should any in fact be made, even under oath, I also declare null and void.
  3. With the same insistence shown by my Predecessors, I earnestly exhort the Cardinal electors not to allow themselves to be guided, in choosing the Pope, by friendship or aversion, or to be influenced by favour or personal relationships towards anyone, or to be constrained by the interference of persons in authority or by pressure groups, by the suggestions of the mass media, or by force, fear or the pursuit of popularity. Rather, having before their eyes solely the glory of God and the good of the Church, and having prayed for divine assistance, they shall give their vote to the person, even outside the College of Cardinals, who in their judgment is most suited to govern the universal Church in a fruitful and beneficial way.

The Reason for the Press-Secretary’s Denial is now manifest

If Maggie Doherty had not gone to the lengths of issuing a denial in such language, I would never have taken notice.  But now that she has, having consulted the papal law on Conclaves, it appears manifest why she has.  If Austen Ivereigh’s book contains verifiable evidence that any of the Cardinals who voted for Jorge Mario Bergoglio canvassed for votes in the manner forbidden, especially if he tacitly consented to this, then by that very fact (ipso facto) they fell under the penalty of excommunication in the same moment they agreed to do such and/or did such. And, if Bergoglio tacitly agreed (that is, had knowledge, and consented without opposing what they were doing), then he, too, would have been excommunicated prior to the Conclave. Continue Reading

2

Remembrance of Turkeys Past

As we prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and as we recall our blessings and thank God for each and every one, let us also remember the humble turkey and the various disasters that result when that proud bird is not treated with the care that it deserves, dead or alive.    Oldtimers like myself will recognize the above video as part of the famous “Turkey Drop” episode from WKRP, a sitcom from the Seventies.

 

Of course Turkey Disasters are not, unfortunately, restricted to the realm of fiction.    Deep frying a turkey poses various risks.

Here we have a case of the flaming avian:

 

 

William Shatner warns of the dangers of deep frying turkeys:

 

Of course there are those among us who revel in the destructive possibilities of cooking turkey.

If deep fry a turkey you must, follow these tips: Continue Reading

43

Please Sir, May I Have Another?

Zeta Male

 

 

A Georgetown student writes about his mugging:

 

Last weekend, my housemate and I were mugged at gunpoint while walking home from Dupont Circle. The entire incident lasted under a minute, as I was forced to the floor, handed over my phone and was patted down.

And yet, when a reporter asked whether I was surprised that this happened in Georgetown, I immediately answered: “Not at all.” It was so clear to me that we live in the most privileged neighborhood within a city that has historically been, and continues to be, harshly unequal. While we aren’t often confronted by this stark reality west of Rock Creek Park, the economic inequality is very real.

Year after year, Washington, D.C., is ranked among the most unequal cities in the country, with the wealthiest 5 percent earning an estimated 54 times more than the poorest 20 percent. According to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, just under 20 percent of D.C. residents live below the poverty line.

What has been most startling to me, even more so than the incident itself, have been the reactions I’ve gotten. I kept hearing “thugs,” “criminals” and “bad people.” While I understand why one might jump to that conclusion, I don’t think this is fair.

Not once did I consider our attackers to be “bad people.” I trust that they weren’t trying to hurt me. In fact, if they knew me, I bet they’d think I was okay. They wanted my stuff, not me. While I don’t know what exactly they needed the money for, I do know that I’ve never once had to think about going out on a Saturday night to mug people. I had never before seen a gun, let alone known where to get one. The fact that these two kids, who appeared younger than I, have even had to entertain these questions suggests their universes are light years away from mine.

 

Go here to read the rest.  This emasculated Zeta Male is a senior in the school of foreign service.  His surrender-immediately-and-blame-himself instincts makes him a natural for the Obama State Department.  The reaction of his readers is a healthy sign that he does not speak for all of his generation: Continue Reading

4

Global Warming No Doubt Caused This

 

Ice is already starting to develop on Michigan’s Great Lakes. This is the earliest ice on some of the Great Lakes in at least 40 years.

According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, on November 20, 2014, three of Michigan’s Great Lakes had ice starting to form. Lake Superior and Lake Michigan were one-half percent ice covered, while Lake Huron had one percent ice. Lake Erie was not reporting any ice as of Nov. 20, 2014.

Decent early season ice coverage records date back to 1973. Last Friday was the earliest date that all three Great Lakes already had ice since the better reporting of early season ice began. Continue Reading

30

Mark Shea, Pro-life and Religion as Politics

 

Mark Shea has taken his agree-with-me-on-these-issues-or-you-are-not-really-pro-life routine to the pages of the Jesuit rag America:

But weirdly, when the topic is not the unborn, many allegedly pro-life people often forget their wisdom. Result: on many issues ranging from war to torture to refugees to the death penalty, it is extremely common to run into people who are anti-abortion, but not pro-life.

And so self-identified pro-life people, in a solid majority, favored the launch of the Iraq War, despite the fact that it failed to meet a single criterion of Just War teaching, was sternly denounced by Pope John Paul II, warned of by the world’s bishops, and dismissed as folly by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who famously remarked that the “concept of a ‘preventive war’ does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and who warned that it would result in catastrophe—as the destruction of the Chaldean Church, the deaths of at least 100,000 people and the transformation of Iraq into chaos eloquently attests.

..
Relatedly, self-identified pro-life Christians supported, in greater percentages than the general U.S. population, the use of torture against prisoners. Indeed, along with Evangelicals, self-identified pro-life Catholics may constitute the single most enthusiastic supporters of torture in American public life. This is despite the fact that the church describes torture as gravely and intrinsically immoral—exactly the same terms in which she describes abortion.

Similarly, the death penalty is sometimes treated as an issue in which the church’s guidance to inflict the punishment only if absolutely necessary is rejected on the theory that God “commands” rather than reluctantly permits the death penalty. Some even go so far as to declare the church, not merely entitled to an opinion from which they dissent, but actually “wrong” and work to execute as many victims as possible.

Finally, there is the strange spectacle of some Catholics opposing pre-natal help for low income women (thus increasing the likelihood of abortion for poor families who fear they cannot afford another child) and the even stranger spectacle of self-identified pro-life people brandishing guns and screaming for desperately poor refugee children from Central America to be sent back to the extreme dangers of rape, sex slavery and murder.
Continue Reading

4

Franksgiving

18_fdr_carves_thanksgiving_turkey_1933

Americans used to have the quaint custom of not putting out Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. That custom seemed to bode ill for the American economy in 1939 with Thanksgiving falling on November 30. President Lincoln had established the custom of Americans nationally thanking God for His blessings on the last Thursday in November. Now another president was going to make a change in this custom.

1939 was a lackluster year for the American economy, and President Roosevelt made the decision in August that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday instead, November 23. Polls indicated that a majority of the American people opposed the change with Republicans most opposed.

Twenty three states used the new date, twenty two states used the old date, and three states had holidays on both dates. The confusion this caused was fodder for comedians with Curly in a Three Stooges short No Census, No Feeling, remarks on the Fourth of July being in October. When Moe is incredulous, Curly responds, “You never can tell. Look what they did to Thanksgiving!” Continue Reading

11

Confederate Thanksgiving

 

 

 

Once more upon the plains of Manassas have our armies been blessed by the Lord of Hosts with a triumph over our enemies. It is my privilege to invite you once more to His footstool, not now in the garb of fasting and sorrow, but with joy and gladness, to render thanks for the great mercies received at His hand. A few months since, and our enemies poured forth their invading legions upon our soil. They laid waste our fields, polluted our altars and violated the sanctity of our homes. Around our capital they gathered their forces, and with boastful threats, claimed it as already their prize. The brave troops which rallied to its defense have extinguished these vain hopes, and, under the guidance of the same almighty hand, have scattered our enemies and driven them back in dismay. Uniting these defeated forces and the various armies which had been ravaging our coasts with the army of invasion in Northern Virginia, our enemies have renewed their attempt to subjugate us at the very place where their first effort was defeated, and the vengeance of retributive justice has overtaken the entire host in a second and complete overthrow.

To this signal success accorded to our arms in the East has been graciously added another equally brilliant in the West. On the very day on which our forces were led to victory on the Plains of Manassas, in Virginia, the same Almighty arm assisted us to overcome our enemies at Richmond, in Kentucky. Thus, at one and the same time, have two great hostile armies been stricken down, and the wicked designs of their armies been set at naught.

In such circumstances, it is meet and right that, as a people, we should bow down in adoring thankfulness to that gracious God who has been our bulwark and defense, and to offer unto him the tribute of thanksgiving and praise. In his hand is the issue of all events, and to him should we, in an especial manner, ascribe the honor of this great deliverance. Continue Reading

20

PopeWatch: Appeasement

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa recognizes that the Catholic Church is in a war, something that the highest ranks of the Church utterly fail to comprehend:

 

 

 

 

ROME, November 21, 2014 – In a few days Pope Francis will go to Turkey, right into the thick of the new “piecemeal” global war that he sees overrunning the world.

The Islamic caliphate that has taken hold just beyond the Turkish border, between Syria and Iraq, pulverizing the old geographical boundaries, is global by nature. “The triumphant march of the mujahideen will reach all the way to Rome,” caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi proclaimed in the middle of November.

It has received declarations of obedience from patches of Islam in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, and Libya, opposite the coasts of Italy. In Nigeria and nearby Cameroon, Boko Haram has extended the caliphate to sub-Saharan Africa. New followers are streaming in from Europe and North America.

The black flag of the newly created Islamic State bears a Kufic inscription of its profession of faith: “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.”

Christians are among the many victims of this puritanical Islam, which calls itself the only true form and also wants to make a desert of what it considers the greatest betrayals of original Islam: the Shiite heresy with its epicenter in Iran and the secularizing modernism of the Turkey of Kemal Atatürk, from whose mausoleum Pope Francis will begin his voyage.

In Ar-Raqqah, the de facto capital of the caliphate and the Syrian city from which the Jesuit Paolo Dall’Oglio disappeared, on the 15 out of 1500 Christian families that have survived the new Islamic State has imposed the jizya, a protection tax of an exorbitant 535 dollars a year, on pain of the confiscation of their homes and possessions.

In Mosul there is no longer any church where Mass is still celebrated, as also happened after the invasion of the Mongols.

It is impossible not to see in this the features of a “war of Islam” pushed to the extreme, fought in the name of Allah. It is illusory to deny the Islamic origin of this unbridled theological violence. This has been published even by the officially supervised “La Civiltà Cattolica,” only to be contradicted afterward by its fearsome director, Antonio Spadaro, the Jesuit who plays the role of Francis’s interpreter.

On Islam the Catholic Church stammers, the more so the higher up the ladder one goes.

The bishops of the dioceses of the Middle East are calling upon the world for effective armed protection, which never comes. In Rome, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran publishes the most detailed denunciation of the atrocities of the caliphate, and declares an end to all possibility of dialogue with those among the Muslims who do not stamp out violence at its roots.

But when the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, speaks in New York from the tribunal of the UN, as he did on September 29, he carefully avoids the taboo words “Islam” and “Muslims,” and pays the obligatory tribute to the mantra that denies the existence of that conflict of civilization which is plain for all to see. Continue Reading

2

November 24, 1864: Thanksgiving for the Troops

In 1864 the Union League decided to raise a fund to supply Thanksgiving dinner on November 24, 1864 for the Union soldiers and sailors fighting in the East.  The reaction of the Northern public to this plan was overwhelming.  over $56,000 in cash was raised, an enormous sum at the time, 250,000 pounds of fowl, and enormous contributions of foodstuffs of every type.  The Union soldiers and sailors loved their feast and the reminder that they had not been forgotten by the folks back home.  For Confederate soldiers, on starvation rations, there was of course no feast, a fact underlining the overwhelming tragedy of the Civil War.  Here is the Union League appeal which was printed in the New York Times on November 8, 1864.  Note that  Theodore Roosevelt, the father of the future president of the same name, is the Treasurer: Continue Reading

9

Some stirrings of discontent in U.S. Catholic higher education

 

It’s difficult to gauge precisely how many Catholics—in particular, those who are genuinely concerned about the Catholic identity of U.S. Catholic higher education—are feeling like Howard Beale, the fictional anchorman for the UBS Evening News in the film Network. Beale had a difficult time accepting the social ailments and depravity existing in the world he was reporting to his viewers. The image of Beale—his beige coat and wet, gray hair plastered to his head—standing up during the middle of his newscast and proclaiming, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” is arguably one of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history.

But, when it comes to U.S. Catholic higher education, the scene is memorable not because Beale had grown insane. No, it’s memorable because Beale was prophetic, correctly discerning the “signs of the times.”

Beale

Yet, although many of Beale’s viewers shared his outrage, they didn’t voice their frustrations. Why?

  • Perhaps some figured they would live their lives the way they saw fit and allow others to do the same. “Live and let live,” they thought. After all, who were they to judge?
  • Perhaps others figured those social ailments and depravity would eventually disappear, collapsing upon themselves of their own weight of the unhappiness they bring. Isn’t that what the natural law teaches?
  • Perhaps yet others lived in fear of those who were actively promoting those social ailments and depravity. They asked, as did Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

For a very long time, some Catholics have been “mad as hell” about the direction U.S. Catholic higher education has taken. Yet, they have remained silent for whatever reason, just like many of Beale’s viewers. However, those Catholics may now be at the point they’re “not going to take this anymore.” Their decades-long, simmering discontent may be at the boiling point and close to boiling over. To wit:

  • A professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Randall Smith, recently argued in Aleteia that something must be done about those universities and colleges which self-identify as “Catholic,” yet are less-than-supportive of Catholic students, faculty, and Church teaching. Smith noted the hostility demonstrated at many nominally Catholic universities in recent decades that has rendered some of them what Smith called “hot-beds of anti-Catholicism.”
  • A Marquette University political science professor, John McAdams, recently posted an article at the Marquette Warrior in which he voiced his concern about the way the concept of social justice is communicated and typically understood at Marquette. McAdams noted how opposition to hot-button issues—like abortion and same-sex marriage—is not a part of the University’s version of social justice. “On the contrary, any opposition to gay marriage is called ‘homophobia,’” McAdams wrote.
  • James Schall, SJ, formerly a member of Georgetown University’s faculty, recently published “The Catholic Difference” at The Catholic World Report. In his post, Fr. Schall emphasized the importance of maintaining a Catholic distinction in this secular world. “Catholics see themselves being…separated out because of a radical cultural change that they did not always notice,” Schall wrote. However, this isolation “is not so much because of any specific doctrinal issue peculiar to Catholics but because of issues of reason and natural law concerning human life and family, the very pillars of civilization.” Losing sight of the search for truth through sober reasoning that’s rooted in natural law, Fr. Schall argued, those institutions are forsaking their Catholic identity at a time just when young people need to experience it most.
  • In Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching, a Providence College professor of English, Anthony Esolen, has argued that many of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges have narrowed the rich tradition of Catholic social teaching. How so? By limiting it to papal writings of the last couple decades and, in particular, papal concerns about society in the post-industrial West. What this narrowing of the tradition has accomplished, Esolen believes, is to divide Church teaching into neat compartments—like sexual morality, marriage, family, and economics—rather than to present the integral whole that it is. In the end, “progress” has been made synonymous with “dispensing [with] the wisdom of the ages.”

The singular problem is the largely unchallenged motive that most academic administrators at those institutions have evidenced for nearly six decades. In short, they want their institutions to be exactly like their secular peers with a patina of Catholic—not too much, not too little, just enough to convince the folks that their institutions are genuinely Catholic. Moving those institutions in this direction is nothing new, tracing its history back to the Land O’ Lakes conference in the late 1960’s.

After nearly six decades, the outcome is a system of higher education that, in most of its policies, classrooms, and dormitories, consists of 240+ universities and colleges that are discernably similar to their secular counterparts.

For those Catholics who are frustrated with the current state of U.S. Catholic higher education, this history raises some fundamental questions:

  • If those institutions aren’t going to be distinctively Catholic and educate students in a decidedly Catholic body of tradition, for what purpose do they exist?
  • How would the virtue of justice adjure administrators who advertise and promote their institutions as “Catholic” when their fundamental motivation is to imitate their secular peers?
  • If a student is not going to receive a distinctive education in the Catholic tradition, is this not tantamount to “false advertising” or, worse yet, theft for charging tuition for something that’s knowingly not going to be provided whole and intact?

When conservatives raise questions like these, they are routinely accused of being interested only in “indoctrinating” students. However, it’s the conduct of those making this accusation that ought to be critically examined. Have they not been using “Catholic” social justice as their Trojan Horse to indoctrinate students into their ideology?

That long-term project and its success is what makes conservatives “mad as hell.” Evidently, some of them are “not going to take this anymore” and are beginning to speak out.

 

 

 

To read Randall Smith’s article, click on the following link:
http://www.aleteia.org/en/education/article/should-catholic-universities-be-subject-to-bishops-accreditation-5327231924568064?

To read John McAdams post, click on the following link:
http://mu-warrior.blogspot.com/2014/11/marquette-how-do-we-deal-with-students.html

To read Fr. Schall’s article, click on the following link:
http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3502/the_catholic_difference.aspx

To learn about/purchase Anthony Esolen’s book, click on the following link:
http://shop.sophiainstitute.com/Reclaiming-Catholic-Social-Teaching-P738.aspx

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

9

Ditto Patrick

 

 

Pat Archbold calls a spade a spade:

 

How much longer we will have to endure this sort of disingenuous dreck of what amounts to little more than Catholic cover of democrat party initiatives?

In his statement on President Obama’s constitution-busting executive orders on immigration, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration twice references the extra-legality of the move by saying that any such actions must be “within its legitimate authority” that these “pastors” (yes, the scare quotes are appropriate) welcome ANY action “within these limits.”
 

WASHINGTON—Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, welcomed the news today that the Obama administration will defer deportations for many undocumented immigrants and their families.

“We have a long history of welcoming and aiding the poor, the outcast, the immigrant, and the disadvantaged. Each day, the Catholic Church in the United States, in her social service agencies, hospitals, schools, and parishes, witnesses the human consequences of the separation of families, when parents are deported from their children or spouses from each other. We’ve been on record asking the Administration to do everything within its legitimate authority to bring relief and justice to our immigrant brothers and sisters. As pastors, we welcome any efforts within these limits that protect individuals and protect and reunite families and vulnerable children,” said Bishop Elizondo.

By welcoming this action, an action for which the President himself publicly claimed no less than 25 times that  lacked legitimate authority, the USCCB adopts a “by any means necessary” approach to its public policy preferences.  That smacks of consequentialism, don’tcha know.

That the action lacks legitimacy and authority is implicitly acknowledged and dismissively side-stepped in the double “doth protest too much” reference of the statement to legitimacy and limits. The apparatchiks at the USCCB know full well that the President lacks the authority to conduct this action, they just don’t care. In this way, they are just like the progressives whom they unflaggingly support. Continue Reading

2

Christ, not Man, is King

 

 

I have always liked that our liturgical year now ends with the feast of Christ the King.  It reminds us not only of the Last Day when Christ will reign in Judgment over all men who have ever lived, but also that beneath the showy pomp of human history, the Captains and the Kings who march through its pages are of infinitely of less account than, as the atheist historian HG Welles put it, the penniless preacher from Galilee who is the center of History.   Just after the beginning of World War II the hero pope Pius XII wrote the encyclical  Summi Pontificatus in which he reminded all of humanity that in the final analysis Christ, not Man, is King.

 

To consider the State as something ultimate to which everything else should be subordinated and directed, cannot fail to harm the true and lasting prosperity of nations. This can happen either when unrestricted dominion comes to be conferred on the State as having a mandate from the nation, people, or even a social order, or when the State arrogates such dominion to itself as absolute master, despotically, without any mandate whatsoever. If, in fact, the State lays claim to and directs private enterprises, these, ruled as they are by delicate and complicated internal principles which guarantee and assure the realization of their special aims, may be damaged to the detriment of the public good, by being wrenched from their natural surroundings, that is, from responsible private action. Continue Reading

40

An Invitation to the Pope

 

When the Pope visits the US next year, I hope he can find time to come to Livingston County Illinois.  I would be happy to be his tour guide and host.  There is a lot to see in the County, but like most of our foreign visitors I think he would be captivated by our farms.  Central Illinois has some of the most fertile soil on Earth, and our endless seas of corn and soybeans are a sight to see in the growing season.  I could take him to visit some of the farms, and he would meet the farmers who produce an agricultural miracle of productivity year after year.  Most of them are members of families who have been tilling the soil here year after year since the Civil War.  He could hear from them how much toil and capital it takes each year to make a crop.  The Pope could see their high tech combines and tractors, etc, and talk to the men and women who routinely put in 16 hour days, six days a week during harvest time.  He could learn just how risky a business farming can be, dependent on weather, and prices around the globe.  No doubt the Pope would be served food wherever he went because that is how our farm wives treat guests, so he should leave plenty of room for pies, cakes, fried chicken, watermelons, etc.

After the tour, I think I would hold a meeting where the Pope could address the farmers, and I would also invite to the meeting all those dependent upon the agriculture industry in the county, and that would include seasonal laborers, grain bin owners, truckers, bankers, etc.  It would be a very respectful and civil meeting and the Pope could say whatever he wished.

However, I would also ask the Pope about this statement he made this week at a UN conference on nutrition held in Rome.

Nowadays there is much talk of rights, frequently neglecting duties; perhaps we have paid too little heed to those who are hungry. It is also painful to see that the struggle against hunger and malnutrition is hindered by “market priorities”, the “primacy of profit”, which have reduced foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation, also of a financial nature. And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain, at the street corner, and ask to be recognised as citizens, to receive a healthy diet. We ask for dignity, not for charity.

I would ask His Holiness what system in the world has fed more people than the free market system.  I would further ask the Pope if free market economies have a better record feeding the poor than command economies.  I would finally  ask the Pope what system, if that is what his frequent criticisms of market economies is leading to, he would wish to substitute.  In regard to farmers, no free market tends to mean that farmers become the serfs of the State, and the land of the farmers is stolen nationalized.  I think the farmers I know would have quite a few questions at that point.

After the meeting all of us would sit down and eat, and perhaps I could then mention to the Pope the food banks run throughout the County by churches and private charities and groups, the food directly contributed to the poor by ordinary people like my family, especially at this time of the year, and how many of the farmers do mission work to help teach people overseas new farming techniques.  In a small county, in population but not in size, like ours the poor are not an abstraction but people we often know, who frequently have family roots that go back far in the history of the County.  The Pope, I hope, would leave Livingston County with fond memories, a bellyful of food to digest and maybe a few things to think about.

 

13

PopeWatch: Did I Just Say What?

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

 

VATICAN–Speaking to pilgrims during his weekly Wednesday audience yesterday, Pope Francis admitted that he was kind of having a hard time making any kind of sense whatsoever of what he just said.

The Pontiff, who has been known to make off the cuff remarks in the past, told those gathered in St. Peter’s Square that what he just said was “admittedly kind of weird.”

“I said what?” Francis asked those gathered. “There’s no way I just said that. OK, that’s just weird. Seriously, what the heck is it with me? Am I trying to change doctrine or something? How am I gonna explain this to my secular friends? Oh boy, I can see their faces now. I bet they’re just itching to ask when I’m gonna start allowing divorced gay Catholics to receive communion. This is great…just great. I’m so freaking pissed right now I think I’m gonna go blog about it.” Continue Reading

3

Wages and Hamburgers, A Pricing History

In the world of social media, articles can have a curiously restless afterlife, suddenly being passed around again for no apparent reason well after their original publication. In one of these, people starting passing around a chart on Twitter as “one of the most important charts you’ll see about the minimum wage” which proved to be from a Mother Jones post from December, 2013 claiming to explain why fast food workers are striking for a higher minimum wage.

This caught my eye because of the fast food association. I have an intellectual interest in the politics and economics of the minimum wage, but fast food I actually know a bit about as I ran pricing analytics for one of the big three hamburger chains for two years. So this allegedly so important chart got me thinking: How has the price of the hamburgers that fast food workers prepare changed over the last 40-50 years compared to the minimum wage? (Note: Contrary to popular belief, a lot of fast food workers make more than minimum wage. Around here, the advertised starting wage at major fast food chains tends to be $0.50 to $1.00 more than the minimum wage. However, the minimum is easy to track so it’s what tends to come up in these conversations.)
Continue Reading

5

The Left Has No Credibility on Abuse of Power Issues

Those of you who remember the space of time between January 20, 2001 and January 20, 2009 might recall that cries for George W. Bush’s impeachment rang out roughly every five seconds from some corner of the American left (and some libertarian circles as well). The Iraq War was a primary impetus for these calls, because I guess continuing a war that had been granted Congressional approval but was becoming increasingly unpopular ran afoul of some constitutional principle. Of course this was not the only motivating factor behind calls for Bush’s impeachment. At some point late in his second term his mere existence was viewed as grounds for impeachment. The most serious centered around supposed abuses of executive power, highlighted especially by his use of presidential signing statements. The anger over these relatively mundane statements revealed more about the bone-dry ignorance of those who sputtered the most outrage over them, because it was quite evident that these individuals didn’t even know what these signing statements were or what they were meant to accomplish.

George W. Bush was obviously not the first, and he certainly won’t be the last president to receive such treatment. Every president faces hostility from members of the opposing party, and every president will be the subject of frivolous and not-so frivolous impeachment talk. Perhaps this is just indicative of our polity’s reflexive desire to howl “IMPEACH HIM!” at every instance of executive overreach. After all, while Bush was not guilty (IMO[NS]HO) of any impeachable offense, arguments that he extended his executive powers to the breaking point are not exactly unreasonable. That Bush merely continued the long tradition of augmenting presidential powers beyond their constitutional breaking point is really no excuse. We can endlessly debate the merits and demerits of executive actions undertaken by our 41st president, but the point is that they are in fact at least debatable.

Which brings us to our 44th president. President Obama’s imperial edict issuance of amnesty by executive order is so breathtaking in its abuse of presidential authority that even advocates of comprehensive immigration reform such as the editors of the Wall Street Journal are left shrieking in horror. We’ll leave aside the Journal’s insistence on using the idiotic phrase “anti-immigration” Republicans and note that even they think he clearly went beyond the scope of his powers. There is no shortage of commentary explaining why President Obama lacks such authority, so I’ll leave that discussion aside right now (although here’s one for starters). I also won’t get into a detailed discussion of what the Republicans ought to do (although you can go here, here, here and here  if you’d like).

What I would like to note is the utter silence of the left on this issue. Actually, it’s not really silence – rather, the left is in full-throated support of this action. Okay, maybe that’s not true, as some on the left don’t think the president went far enough. But, by and large, the left is completely hunky dory with this decree. And they are not alone, as some of the geniuses at the USCCB had already signaled their contentment with Obama’s act of contempt for the constitution. We’re not even two years removed from the Bishops marching out in opposition to the HHS contraception mandate, and there they are providing a wink and a nod this round of executive overreach. I guess some violations of the constitution are okay so long as they accord with your policy preferences.

Which brings us to the nub of the issue. After years of bemoaning every real and imagined instance of George W. Bush overreach, the left in almost its entirety has either remained silent or actively applauded every instance of Obamian executive rule-making. This most recent example is just the latest in a long line of executive abuses of authority by this administration. Whether it be forcing Churches to cover contraception, or “recess” appointments when there wasn’t any Congressional recess to be speak of, or name your favorite example of some departmental rule-making beyond the scope of its Congressional authority, and there have been opportunities for honest citizens of the left to cry out in opposition. But their silence is deafening.

You see for progressives it’s all about the ends, not the means. If the ends are good, then the means don’t really matter. Now if the ends are bad, then well, any means is de facto illegitimate.

Jay Nordlinger talks about an example of this from his own personal experience.

In 2003, I was at a dinner party on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. All liberals, plus me. The Texas sodomy decision had just come down from the Supreme Court. My hostess asked me what I thought. I said that I agreed with Justice Thomas — who wrote essentially this: “The Texas law is dumb. If I were a member of the state legislature, I would vote to repeal it. But I find nothing in the Constitution that forbids a state to make such a law.”

My hostess looked at me as though I had come from Mars. She did not look at me with hostility. She looked at me with incomprehension. If you’ve got the power, you use it, for good ends. If you’ve got the black robe and the gavel — why, ram home what is right!

When I was in college, and figuring things out, I noticed that the Left had a disdain for process. They would use it, if the process was to their advantage. But they would jettison it the second the process was inconvenient. What mattered was the result, period.

Jonah Goldberg has written about all this in his excellent book, Liberal Fascism. For over a century the American left has steadily worked to undermine the constitutional process. It has done so via the Courts. It has done so through the presidency. It has even done so in subtle ways culturally. Why do you think there has been so much bellyaching about gridlock and Congress’ failure to “compromise?” The left wants to leave the impression that the failure to produce legislative action is a bug and not a feature of our constitutional process. This impatience with our peculiar republican form of government is what has spurred all of the actions that have degraded our constitutional system.

It is tempting to bemoan the hypocrisy of the left and its refusal to hold President Obama to the same standards it held President Bush. But the left is not being hypocritical, at least not now. No, the real hypocrisy occurred in the years between 2001 and 2009 when the left pretended to care about things like separation of powers, checks and balances, and limits on the Executive’s authority. In reality, they didn’t give a fig about any of these constitutional checks on the presidency except insofar as the wrong guy got to exercise said authority. So when Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, or some other individual with an -R next to his name next occupies the Oval Office, please lend all leftist cries about abuse of power all the credence they deserve.

18

Napoleon on Christ?

christ-victorious

I have been reading, and enjoying, Andrew Roberts’ new biography of Napoleon.  Although I am not a fan of the Little Corporal, and Roberts clearly is, I appreciate the freshness he brings to a man who has been studied endlessly since his emergence from the maelstrom of the French Revolution.  I am taking this opportunity to repost a post I wrote in 2008 on purported comments made by Napoleon about Christ:

 

 

Napoleon purportedly made some remarkable statements about Christ while he was imprisoned on Saint Helena.  This one was supposedly made to General Bertrand:

” Such is the fate of great men ! So it was with Caesar and Alexander.   And I, too, am forgotten.   And the name of a conqueror and an emperor is a college theme!   Our exploits are tasks given to pupils by their tutor, who sit in judgment upon us, awarding censure or praise.   And mark what is soon to become of me!   Assassinated by the English oligarchy, I die before my time ; and my dead body, too, must return to the earth, to become food for worms.   Behold the destiny, near at hand, of him who has been called the great Napoleon!   What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal reign of Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, adored, and which is extending over all the earth!   Is this to die?   Is it not rather to live?   The death of Christ!   It is the death of God.”

For a moment the Emperor was silent. As General Bertrand made no reply, he solemnly added, ” If you do not perceive that Jesus Christ is God, very well, then I did wrong to make you a general.”

And this statement, also to General Bertrand:

“The conversation at St. Helena very frequently turned upon the subject of religion. One day Napoleon was speaking of the divinity of Christ. General Bertrand said,

” I can not conceive, sire, how a great man like you can believe that the Supreme Being ever exhibited himself to men under a human form, with a body, a face, mouth, and eyes. Let Jesus be whatever you please—the highest intelligence, the purest heart, the most profound legislator, and, in all respects, the most singular being who has ever existed—I grant it. Still he was simply a man, who taught his disciples, and deluded credulous people, as did Orpheus, Confucius, Brama. Jesus caused himself to be adored because his predecessors Isis and Osiris, Jupiter and Juno, had proudly made themselves objects of worship. The ascendancy of Jesus over his time was like the ascendancy of the gods and the heroes of fable. If Jesus has impassioned and attached to his chariot the multitude, if he has revolutionized the world, I see in that only the power of genius and the action of a commanding spirit, which vanquishes the world as so many conquerors have done— Alexander, Caesar, you, sire, and Mohammed—with a sword.”

Napoleon promptly replied,

” I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires, and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religion the distance of infinity.”

 I say these statements were purportedly made by Napoleon because controversy surrounds these and similar statements allegedly made by Napoleon about Christ on Saint Helena.  Go here for some background on the difficulty of confirming these quotes. Continue Reading

7

PopeWatch: Pope Emeritus

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Well, this is interesting:

In Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s complete works, an article from 1972 by the young theologian Father Ratzinger, has been published minus a passage referring to the possibility of Communion for the divorced and remarried.

This deletion is interesting since that passage has been quoted frequently by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who, as was noted at the Synod, is a an enthusiastic advocate of the divorced and remarried being admitted to the Eucharist.

According to the Irish Times, Father Vincent Twomey (a theologian, who studied under Professor Ratzinger) is of the opinion that the editorial modification is important; the theologian suggests that Pope Emeritus does not want his ideas as a young theologian, never repeated as Prefect for the Congregation of Faith nor as Pope, being manipulated. Continue Reading

5

November 21, 1864: Letter to Mrs. Bixby

Executive Mansion, Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,

 

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

 

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

 

A. LINCOLN.

 

It is a magnificent letter and repeats themes from the Gettysburg address and looks forward to the Second Inaugural.  Alas, the letter demonstrates how frequently ill advised it is to rely on government records.  Two of Mrs. Bixby’s sons died fighting for the Union, another died as either a deserter or a prisoner of war and another deserted and survived the war.  The final son was honorably discharged from the Army.  (This is not that unusual.  One of my friends, when it came time for him to retire from the Marines, had quite a time convincing the Pentagon that he had not died fighting in Hue during the Tet Offensive in 1968.) Mrs. Bixby did not find the letter of comfort apparently.  According to a granddaughter, Mrs. Bixby was secretly in sympathy with the Confederacy and had little good to say of Mr. Lincoln.  She probably destroyed the letter soon after it was delivered to her on November 24, 1864, as the original letter, which was published at the time, promptly vanished from history.

 

Lincoln, although he signed the letter, may not have written it.  Theodore Roosevelt had a copy of it in his office and greatly admired it.  A witness indicated that at one point his Secretary of State John Hay, who had been one of Lincoln’s private secretaries, stated that he had written the letter, which would not have been an unusual procedure, although Lincoln wrote quite a bit of his own correspondence as President.  The question remains open, although on balance I think the authorship of the letter by Hay, mimicking Lincoln’s thoughts and style, probably has the stronger case than Lincoln’s own authorship. Having said all of that, I assume that Lincoln’s heart did go out to Mrs.  Bixby.  He had seen two of his own sons die, and friends and relatives of his had fallen in the War.  He was a frequent visitor to Union hospitals around Washington to visit the Union wounded and knew well the immense human cost of the War that now, mercifully, was drawing to a close. Continue Reading

15

The Old Issue

 

“Here is nothing new nor aught unproven,” say the Trumpets,
“Many feet have worn it and the road is old indeed.
“It is the King—the King we schooled aforetime !”
(Trumpets in the marshes—in the eyot at Runnymede!)

“Here is neither haste, nor hate, nor anger,” peal the Trumpets,
“Pardon for his penitence or pity for his fall.
“It is the King!”—inexorable Trumpets—
(Trumpets round the scaffold at the dawning by Whitehall!)

.     .     .     .     .

“He hath veiled the Crown and hid the Sceptre,” warn the Trumpets,
“He hath changed the fashion of the lies that cloak his will.
“Hard die the Kings—ah hard—dooms hard!” declare the Trumpets,
Trumpets at the gang-plank where the brawling troop-decks fill!

Ancient and Unteachable, abide—abide the Trumpets!
Once again the Trumpets, for the shuddering ground-swell brings
Clamour over ocean of the harsh, pursuing Trumpets—
Trumpets of the Vanguard that have sworn no truce with Kings!

All we have of freedom, all we use or know—
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.

Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw—
Leave to live by no man’s leave, underneath the Law.

Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing
Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.

Till our fathers ‘stablished, after bloody years,
How our King is one with us, first among his peers.

So they bought us freedom—not at little cost
Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost,

Over all things certain, this is sure indeed,
Suffer not the old King: for we know the breed. Continue Reading

19

PopeWatch: Why?

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Francis Cardinal George in an interview gets to the heart of the questions that arise about Pope Francis among orthodox Catholics:
Let’s talk about Pope Francis. Recently veteran Italian writer Sandro Magister said many American bishops seem “uncomfortable” with Francis, and hinted that the American bishops may have to become the defenders of tradition rather than the Vatican under this pope. What do you make of that?
I hope he’s wrong! It’s not because I don’t trust the American bishops, I do, but that’s a very broad statement about the pope and the Vatican.
Are you concerned that there’s a wholesale abandonment of tradition?
I don’t think there’s a wholesale abandonment of tradition. The pope has said he wants every question to be raised and it has been, so he’s gotten what he wants, and now he has to sort it out. He himself has said that the pope has the charism of unity, and he knows very well that it’s unity around Christ, not around him. Therefore, the tradition that unites us to Christ has to be the norm. How he interprets that, and how somebody else might interpret that, is where you get into conversations that shape a government.
I can see why some people might be anxious. If you don’t push it, he does seem to bring into question well-received doctrinal teaching. But when you look at it again, especially when you listen to his homilies in particular, you see that’s not it. Very often when he says those things, he’s putting it into a pastoral context of someone who’s caught in a kind of trap. Maybe the sympathy is expressed in a way that leaves people wondering if he still holds the doctrine. I have no reason to believe that he doesn’t.
Until the Synod of Bishops in October, most mainstream folks in what we might loosely call the ‘conservative’ camp seemed inclined to give Francis the benefit of the doubt. Afterwards that seems less the case, with some people now seeing the pope in a more critical light. Is that your sense as well?
I think that’s probably true. The question is raised, why doesn’t he himself clarify these things? Why is it necessary that apologists have to bear that burden of trying to put the best possible face on it? Does he not realize the consequences of some of his statements, or even some of his actions? Does he not realize the repercussions? Perhaps he doesn’t. I don’t know whether he’s conscious of all the consequences of some of the things he’s said and done that raise these doubts in people’s minds.

Continue Reading

24

King Obama

 

 

In Federalist 69 Alexander Hamilton responded to the criticism that the Presidency under the proposed Constitution established an elective monarchy which would be a perpetual threat to American liberties:

 

Hence it appears that, except as to the concurrent authority of the President in the article of treaties, it would be difficult to determine whether that magistrate would, in the aggregate, possess more or less power than the Governor of New York. And it appears yet more unequivocally, that there is no pretense for the parallel which has been attempted between him and the king of Great Britain. But to render the contrast in this respect still more striking, it may be of use to throw the principal circumstances of dissimilitude into a closer group.

 

The President of the United States would be an officer elected by the people for four years; the king of Great Britain is a perpetual and hereditary prince. The one would be amenable to personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is sacred and inviolable. The one would have a qualified negative upon the acts of the legislative body; the other has an absolute negative. The one would have a right to command the military and naval forces of the nation; the other, in addition to this right, possesses that of declaring war, and of raising and regulating fleets and armies by his own authority. The one would have a concurrent power with a branch of the legislature in the formation of treaties; the other is the sole possessor of the power of making treaties. The one would have a like concurrent authority in appointing to offices; the other is the sole author of all appointments. The one can confer no privileges whatever; the other can make denizens of aliens, noblemen of commoners; can erect corporations with all the rights incident to corporate bodies. The one can prescribe no rules concerning the commerce or currency of the nation; the other is in several respects the arbiter of commerce, and in this capacity can establish markets and fairs, can regulate weights and measures, can lay embargoes for a limited time, can coin money, can authorize or prohibit the circulation of foreign coin. The one has no particle of spiritual jurisdiction; the other is the supreme head and governor of the national church! What answer shall we give to those who would persuade us that things so unlike resemble each other? The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that a government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of the elective and periodical servants of the people, is an aristocracy, a monarchy, and a despotism.

 

One can only imagine what Mr. Hamilton and the other Founding Fathers would make of this:

According to a senior Democrat familiar with the plans, Obama will announce on Thursday that he is providing temporary protections to up to 5 million undocumented immigrants. His orders will make up to 4 million undocumented immigrants eligible for temporary protective status and provide relief to another 1 million through other means. Continue Reading

Roosevelt’s Rebel Uncles

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During the Civil War, Theodore Roosevelt’s home was literally a house divided.  His father was whole heartedly for the Union, while his mother backed the Confederacy with the same passion.  Our of respect for his wife, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr, put aside his strong desire to enlist in the Union army and served in a civilian non-combatant capacity.  Many of his mother’s relations fought for the Confederacy, and Roosevelt, Jr, was especially fond of two of his uncles who had served in the Confederate Navy:

“My mother’s two brothers, James Dunwoody Bulloch and Irvine Bulloch, came to visit us shortly after the close of the war. Both came under assumed names, as they were among the Confederates who were at that time exempted from the amnesty. “Uncle Jimmy” Bulloch was a dear old retired sea-captain, utterly unable to “get on” in the worldly sense of that phrase, as valiant and simple and upright a soul as ever lived, a veritable Colonel Newcome. He was a commander in the Confederate navy, and was the builder of the famous Confederate war vessel Alabama. My uncle Irvine Bulloch was a midshipman on the Alabama, and fired the last gun discharged from her batteries in the fight with the Kearsarge. Both of these uncles lived in Liverpool after the war. “

My uncle Jimmy Bulloch was forgiving and just in reference to the Union forces, and could discuss all phases of the Civil War with entire fairness and generosity. But in English politics he promptly became a Tory of the most ultra-conservative school. Lincoln and Grant he could admire, but he would not listen to anything in favor of Mr. Gladstone. The only occasions on which I ever shook his faith in me were when I would venture meekly to suggest that some of the manifestly preposterous falsehoods about Mr. Gladstone could not be true. My uncle was one of the best men I have ever known, and when I have sometimes been tempted to wonder how good people can believe of me the unjust and impossible things they do believe, I have consoled myself by thinking of Uncle Jimmy Bulloch’s perfectly sincere conviction that Gladstone was a man of quite exceptional and nameless infamy in both public and private life.” Continue Reading

26

Climate Cult

Princeton Professor of Physics William Happer has long been skeptical of the climate change movement, viewing it as largely a religious, I would say substitute religious, cult.  He set forth a summary of his views in an article in First Things in 2011:

There are many honest, hardworking climate scientists who are trying to understand the effects of CO2 on climate, but their work has fallen under suspicion because of the hockey-stick scandal and many other exaggerations about the dangers of increasing CO2. What has transformed climate science from a normal intellectual discipline to a matter of so much controversy?

A major problem has been the co-opting of climate science by politics, ambition, greed, and what seems to be a hereditary human need for a righteous cause. What better cause than saving the planet? Especially if one can get ample, secure funding at the same time? Huge amounts of money are available from governments and wealthy foundations for climate institutes and for climate-related research.

Funding for climate studies is second only to funding for biological sciences. Large academic empires, prizes, elections to honorary societies, fellowships, and other perquisites go to those researchers whose results may help “save the planet.” Every day we read about some real or contrived environmental or ecological effect “proven” to arise from global warming. The total of such claimed effects now runs in the hundreds, all the alleged result of an unexceptional century-long warming of less than 1 degree Celsius. Government subsidies, loan guarantees, and captive customers go to green companies. Carbon-tax revenues flow to governments. As the great Russian poet Pushkin said in his novella Dubrovsky , “If there happens to be a trough, there will be pigs.” Any doubt about apocalyptic climate scenarios could remove many troughs.

What about those who doubt the scientific basis of these claims, or who simply don’t like what is being done to the scientific method they were taught to apply and uphold? Publications of contrary research results in mainstream journals are rare. The occasional heretical article is the result of an inevitable, protracted battle with those who support the dogma and who have their hands on the scales of peer review. As mentioned above, we know from the Climategate emails that the team conspired to prevent contrary publications from seeing the light of day and even discussed getting rid of an editor who seemed to be inclined to admit such contentious material.

Skeptics’ motives are publicly impugned; denigrating names are used routinely in media reports and the blogosphere; and we now see attempts to use the same tactics that Big Brother applied to the skeptical hero, Winston Smith, in Orwell’s 1984 . In 2009 a conference of “ecopsychologists” was held at the University of West England to discuss the obvious psychological problems resident in those who do not adhere to the global warming dogma. The premise of these psychologists was that scientists and members of the general population who express objective doubt about the propagated view of global warming are suffering from a kind of mental illness. We know from the Soviet experience that a society can find it easy to consider dissidents to be mentally deranged and act accordingly. Continue Reading

5

PopeWatch: Controversy

 

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That we live in deeply silly times is confirmed unintentionally by Time Magazine:

 

Pope Francis caused quite a stir on Monday with a statement that was criticized as a rolling back of his much lauded attempts to make the Catholic Church more inclusive of the LGBT community.

“Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother,” said the Pope during a speech at the Complementarity of Man and Woman conference in Rome. Continue Reading

2

The Modern World is Going to Hell: A Continuing Series: The Whatever Vermin of the Apocalypse

The  sixth in my series of posts in which I give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.

We have started off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose.  I like to refer to these as  The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity.  Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post.  We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin,  here the Pierced Vermin, here the F-Bomb Vermin, here the Texting Vermin, and here the Trashy Vermin.  The sixth of the Hamsters is the Whatever Vermin.

In my family my mother was the main disciplinarian.  My father was reserved for major transgressions and a word, literally, from him was sufficient to stop any misbehavior that I and my brother were up to.  Looking back on my early life I truly think my mother would have made a superb trial attorney.  She had a talent for ferreting out the truth that after 32 years at the bar I still envy.  No amount of misdirection or obfuscation could deter her.  Woe betide us if either my brother or I resorted to mendacity to conceal our misdemeanors.  Mom had a special detestation for lies and whatever punishment she deemed fitting would be greatly intensified if she suspected we were less than truthful.  Thus, we tended to respond to her questions, briefly and bluntly, come what may.  I can only imagine how she would have reacted if we had ever uttered the word, “Whatever.” to her.

Continue Reading

17

An Ill Considered Call to Settle for Porn

Prof Mark Regnerus had a piece in First Things last week arguing… Well, I guess that part of the problem is that it’s not exactly clear what Regnerus is arguing. He starts out with some basic survey data on porn usage:

Forty-three percent of American men (and 9 percent of women) now report using pornography within the past week. It’s not an adolescent thing, either, as data from the new Relationships in America survey reveals. For men, porn use peaks in their twenties and thirties before beginning to diminish slowly. Indeed, sixty-year-old men are only slightly less likely to have viewed pornography within the past week than men in their twenties and thirties.

Among women, there is a more linear downward trend in pornography use with age. While 19 percent of women under age thirty report porn use in the week prior to the survey, only 3 percent of women in their fifties say the same. The challenge invades congregations as well: 26 percent of weekly church-attending men reported porn use within the past week.

Contrary to what is sometimes asserted, women have the right to be annoyed or upset by porn. It’s not a good thing. It’s spiritually draining. But we often overlook another casualty of pornography (and the human reaction to it): relationships that fail to launch. Breaking off a relationship because of pornography use can be a rational, justifiable, and moral reaction to a problem—the predilection for peering at nudity online—but such actions contribute in ways not often noted to our broad retreat from marriage.

He then follows up with several anecdotes about women saying that they consider porn use a deal-breaker when it comes to picking a man to have a relationship with. Regnerus worries that this will mean that lots of people will avoid getting married at all: Continue Reading

16

Other Than That Whole Killing a Hundred Million People Thing, Communism in Europe Had Its Points

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Kurt Cardinal Koch puts hoof in mouth:

 

 

The end of communist rule in Europe, which began 25 years ago this month, was not all positive for Christianity because it brought tensions between Rome and Russia back to the surface, a senior Vatican official said on Monday.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, the top Roman Catholic official for inter-church relations, said the re-emergence of Eastern Catholic churches in Ukraine and Romania after decades of suppression had created major tensions with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russian Orthodox leaders have accused the Vatican-aligned Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church of trying to take back churches and woo away believers from the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate. The Ukrainian church and the Vatican deny this.

Moscow prelates cite this as a hurdle to closer ties between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church, which for decades prayed for the conversion of the Soviet Union only to see the newly resurgent Russian Orthodox Church become a difficult partner.

“The changes in 1989 were not advantageous for ecumenical relations,” Koch told Vatican Radio. “The Eastern Catholic churches banned by Stalin re-emerged, especially in Ukraine and Romania, and from the Orthodox came the old accusation about Uniate churches and proselytism.” Continue Reading

12

But Wasn’t the Church Invented in 1965?

Cardinal Newman History

 

 

Pat Archbold is on fire over at National Catholic Register:

But the common usage of ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ extends its use beyond as just an interpretive lens of the council. Today, it has become a crutch and a cudgel.  It is a crutch in that the hierarchy of the Church no longer feels obligated to clarity in its communications, but regularly unitizes and embraces ambiguity out of laziness or even possibly sometimes with more nefarious motives.  The bottom line is there is no understood obligation on the part of the magisterium to teach and communicate in the clearest and most unambiguous way possible.

Rather, too much communication in recent years has gone beyond mere ambiguity approaching clear contradiction, leaving it up to those few still concerned with continuity to develop a lens suitable to a proper catholic understanding.  If you have to squint, turn your head left 45 degrees, and stand on one foot to view a modern church communication as Catholic, well then you had better do it bub.  In this way, the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ is a rhetorical cudgel used to beat anyone who dares to notice any discontinuity. 

Why is it now our obligation to assume even the most contradictory utterances and writings are in conformity with immutable Catholic teaching but no longer their obligation to clearly demonstrate that continuity?

I know it may seem antediluvian to suggest this, but read Pascendi Dominici Gregis, or the encyclicals of Leo XII, read any of great encyclicals of the centuries prior to 1960, is any hermeneutic necessary to understand them?  Are copious context and a rose-colored lens necessary to view them in continuity with all that came before?  No, they are plainly and obviously Catholic with many references to Popes and documents before them to establish clearly in the mind of the reader that what is being taught has always and everywhere been taught. 

But is unfortunately rare today that modern Church teaching and communications refer or quote, in any meaningful way, Church documents prior to 1960.  It seems obvious to me that this is purposeful, as the clarity of those documents do not serve the resolute ambiguity now so desired.

The unconverted person looking in from the outside could be forgiven for assuming that a 2,000 yr. old Church that is afraid to quote itself beyond the last 50 years is either unworthy of belief or unworthy of its beliefs. Continue Reading

1

Lèse-majesté

 

 

 

I always have believed that the South Side Messiah views himself as something like the Sun King, and we are finding out that the powers that be in the mainstream media had a similar view of him:

 

Melissa Francis, host of the Fox Business Network’s “Money with Melissa Francis” reported that she was scolded for doing reporting critical of Obamacare during her time at CNBC on her show Friday.

“When I was at CNBC, I pointed out to my viewers that the math of Obamacare simply didn’t work. Not the politics by the way, just the basic math. And when I did that, I was silenced. I said on the air, that you couldn’t add millions of people to the system and force insurance companies to cover their preexisting conditions without raising the price on everyone else. I pointed out that it couldn’t possibly be true that if you like your plan you can keep it. That was a lie, and in fact, millions of people had their insurance canceled. As a result of what I said at CNBC, I was called into management where I was told, that I was quote, ‘disrespecting the office of the president’ by telling, what turned out to be the absolute truth” she stated. Continue Reading

20

There’s No Place Like Creighton University

Although it happened a couple of weeks back, it was bound to happen.

A President of a Catholic University has cited Pope Francis as an influential factor extending health benefits to same-sex “spouses” of university employees.

According to the Omaha World-Herald:

[The President of Creighton University, the Reverend Timothy Lannon, SJ] said the idea began to take root after Pope Francis took a different tone on gays in the church. He said he discussed it with campus leaders for a year before making the decision. Though he largely heard agreement on campus—Lannon said the university’s benefits committee approved it unanimously—Archbishop George Lucas was firmly opposed.

Lannon

The Reverend Timothy Lannon, SJ

In the article, Fr. Lannon is also quoted as saying:

I asked myself, what would Jesus do in this case? And I can only imagine Jesus being so welcoming of all people.”

Continue Reading

17

PopeWatch: Think Hard About This

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The Pope spoke quite strongly against abortion, euthanasia and in vitro fertilization on Saturday to the Association of Italian Catholic doctors

The dominant thinking sometimes suggests a “false compassion”, that which believes that it is: helpful to women to promote abortion; an act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to “produce” a child and to consider it to be a right rather than a gift to welcome; or to use human lives as guinea pigs presumably to save others. Instead, the compassion of the Gospel is that which accompanies in times of need, that is, the compassion of the Good Samaritan, who “sees”, “has compassion”, approaches and provides concrete help (cf. Lk 10:33).

Your mission as doctors puts you in daily contact with many forms of suffering. I encourage you to take them on as “Good Samaritans”, caring in a special way for the elderly, the infirm and the disabled. Fidelity to the Gospel of life and respect for life as a gift from God sometimes require choices that are courageous and go against the current, which in particular circumstances, may become points of conscientious objection. And this fidelity entails many social consequences. We are living in a time of experimentation with life. But a bad experiment. Making children rather than accepting them as a gift, as I said.

Playing with life. Be careful, because this is a sin against the Creator: against God the Creator, who created things this way. When so many times in my life as a priest I have heard objections: “But tell me, why the Church is opposed to abortion, for example? Is it a religious problem?” No, no. It is not a religious problem. “Is it a philosophical problem?” No, it is not a philosophical problem.

It’s a scientific problem, because there is a human life there, and it is not lawful to take out a human life to solve a problem. “But no, modern thought…” But, listen, in ancient thought and modern thought, the word “kill” means the same thing. The same evaluation applies to euthanasia: we all know that with so many old people, in this culture of waste, there is this hidden euthanasia. But there is also the other. And this is to say to God, “No, I will accomplish the end of life, as I will.” A sin against God the Creator! Think hard about this. Continue Reading

Stonewall Jim

stonewall jim

 

 

In 1852 a cadet challenged Professor Thomas Jonathan Jackson to a duel.  A brilliant student, the cadet had been expelled from the Virginia Military Institute due to charges brought against him by Professor Jackson alleging classroom disobedience.  Enraged the cadet challenged him to a duel and threatened that if Jackson would not fight him in a duel he would seek him out and kill him.  Jackson was not going to fight a duel with a cadet and considered taking out a restraining order.  However, the former cadet,  James Alexander Walker, eventually calmed down and went on with his life.  He studied law at the University of Virginia and began practicing law.  He married and he and his wife would eventually have six children.  Then the war came.

Enlisting in the Confederate army as a captain, he quickly was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and then Colonel of the 13th Virginia.  The 13th Virginia served in the Valley Campaign under now General Thomas Jonathan Jackson.  Jackson admired the courage and discipline of the cadet that had been dismissed from VMI due to his charges, which Walker regarded Jackson as a military genius and the ideal commander.  On his deathbed, Jackson recommended that Walker be promoted to general and given command of his old unit, the elite Stonewall Brigade.

Called Stonewall Jim by his troops, Walker led the brigade from Gettysburg to Spotsylvania where he was severely wounded.  Late in the war he commanded a division in the Second Corps.

After the war he had an illustrious career at both the bar and in politics.  He served in the Virginia legislature as a Democrat, eventually being elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.  In 1893 he switched to the Republican party and served two terms in Congress, being defeated in a hotly contested election for a third term.  At a deposition over the election results, he was shot and wounded.  Nothing dismayed, he ran against his opponent again and lost again in 1900.  He died in 1901. Continue Reading

15

Civil Disobedience and Afflicting the Comfortable

Several years ago I composed this examination of civil disobedience and the different forms that have developed since Henry David Thoreau coined, or at least popularized, the term in his 1849 essay “Resistance to Civil Government” (AKA “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”).

To quickly recap what I said then, there are three types of actions that have come to be defined as civil disobedience: refusing to obey an inherently unjust law;  breaking an otherwise just law in a particular situation where the law’s effects happen to be unjust; and going out of one’s way to break just laws with the primary intent of risking or provoking arrest.

The first type of civil disobedience — refusing to obey an unjust law, and accepting the consequences of doing so — is the most “classic” form, embraced by followers of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King and practiced frequently throughout the centuries by groups as diverse as the early Christian martyrs, the Underground Railroad, and the “righteous Gentiles” who helped Jews escape from the Nazi Holocaust.

The second type includes situations in which an individual defies a law or court order to protect other parties from harm (e.g. a parent refusing to obey a child custody order), or to avert an imminent threat (trespassing upon abortion clinic property in order to prevent unborn children from being killed that day).

The third type, in which activists engage in trespassing, vandalism, or other illegal actions purely to attract attention to their cause, is largely a creation of the media age, and is in my opinion, a distortion of genuine civil disobedience as practiced by Gandhi, King, et al. Generally, it does little or nothing to alleviate the injustice being protested and serves mainly to make those who practice it look like self-righteous publicity hounds.

Since then, it appears that recent events and new media trends have distorted the meaning of civil disobedience even farther beyond its original intent. Now, “civil disobedience” apparently includes “making daily life miserable for everyone who does not agree with you 100%.”

Continue Reading