91

Pat Archbold Fired From National Catholic Register

 

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Well this is no surprise.  Pat Archbold was repeatedly guilty of telling truth out of season which is apparently a mortal sin these days in the Catholic Church:

 

 

Yup, they fired me.

I am grateful for the five years I spent as a contributor to the Register, the online presence of which has grown immensely during my tenure and that of the other original group of contributors. There is a lot to be proud of there. I stuck with them in hard times even when they were completely broke and it looked like they would blink out of existence, only to be saved at the last minute. Alas and alack, our time together has come to an end.

There are many things I could say about why this happened and how and maybe one day I will say more. But for now, suffice it to say that my particular contributions have not been well received over the last year or so and that has lead to increasing tension. I suppose that is plain to anyone with eyes to see. I will note that upon my departure, among the top 10 posts for the last 3 weeks, you will find three of my contributions.

I am proud of my writing at the Register. I feel I have been consistent in my approach to writing and the topics I cover. I think I brought a viewpoint to the Register that is otherwise not well represented among their stable of good writers. The Church has been going through some tough times and as a consequence I have sometimes tried to tackle some tough issues. I have always tried to do so fairly and as a loyal son of the Church. I will leave it to others to decide whether the Register is better off without my writing or viewpoint.  Continue Reading

29

Bingo

Ronald Reagan on Liberal Tolerance
Attorney David French over at National Review Online nails it in regard to the uproar over the Indiana Religious  Freedom Restoration Act:
Simply put, their concerns about systematic invidious discrimination are utter hogwash, and they either know it or should know it. Why? Because RFRAs aren’t new, the legal standard they protect is decades older than the RFRAs themselves, and these legal standards have not been used — nor can they be used — to create the dystopian future the Left claims to fear. After all, the current RFRA legal tests were the law of the land for all 50 states — constitutionally mandated — until the Supreme Court’s misguided decision in Employment Division v. Smith, where the Court allowed fear of drug use to overcome its constitutional good sense. And yet during the decades before Smith, non-discrimination statutes proliferated, and were successfully enforced to open public accommodations to people of all races, creeds, colors, and — yes — sexual orientations.

Continue Reading

Screen Pilates: Keith Mitchell

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard, Stephen Moyer and Dennis King may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here , here and here.

CBS broadcast a film adaptation of Jim Bishop’s book The Day Christ Died in 1980.  Bishop hated the film adaptation, had his name removed from the credits and attempted unsuccessfully to change the name of the film.

Brian Mitchell, best known as King Henry VIII in The Six Wives of Henry VIII gives a powerful portrayal as Pilate.  Pilate is interpreted by Mitchell as a politician who, by his own admission, believes in nothing other than his career.  He is disturbed by his wife’s desire to spare Christ.  He is intrigued by Christ and views Him as a mysterious figure.  Ultimately he reluctantly decides to have Christ crucified when Caiaphas accuses him of disloyalty to Caesar, at least that is the public excuse for him literally washing his hands of the matter before the mob.  A glance by Pilate at the pitcher prior to him offering the choice between Barabbas and Christ indicates that he planned what he would do if the mob chose Barabbas.  A good portrayal of Pilate that catches what a tricky character he no doubt was, rather than the straight forward Pilate of most other retellings of the Passion.

March 31, 1865: Battle of White Oak Road

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Realizing that Grant was moving sufficient troops to flank his right, General Lee decided to launch an attack against the troops of the Union V Corps, holding a section of  the White Oak Road and preventing the linking of the Confederate right under Pickett with the rest of Lee’s army.  The Union left was in the air, separated by  three miles from Sheridan’s troopers at Dinwiddie Court House and Lee intended to take full advantage of this fact, massing four brigades to make the attack.

The Confederates routed two Union divisions, chasing them south of Gravelly Run.  At 2:30 PM the Union V Corps counterattacked across Gravelly Run, the attack spearheaded by the First Division of the V Corps.  The spearhead of the spearhead was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s brigade, still led by Chamberlain although he had been seriously wounded at the battle of Lewis Farm on March 29, 1865.  The Union counterattack was successful,  recovering the lost ground and once again breaking the White Oak Road, separating the Confederate right at Five Forks from the rest of the Confederate army.  Union casualties were approximately 1407 to approximately 800 Confederate.

 

Here is the report of Brigadier General Charles Griffin who commanded the First Division of the V Corps: Continue Reading

15

Various & Sundry, 3/30/2015

With Holy Week upon us, this will be the last V&S until after Easter.

– Gabriel Malor answers all your questions about the Indiana state RFRA. Considering that Malor often rankles the Ace of Spades commentariat with his writings on gay issues, particularly his support for gay marriage, it is significant that he is coming out against the anti-bill hysteria.

– A woman who killed an unborn child in Colorado will not be facing murder charges.

Why can’t prosecutors charge Lane with murder? Colorado is one of only 12 states that do not protect unborn children from murder. For that gap, Coloradans can thank Democrats who controlled the state legislature, and the abortion industry that controls Democrats … and themselves for buying their arguments when they had a chance to prevent this injustice

For the Democrats, it’s the abortion lobbey uber alles. That’s why this guy doesn’t have a chance in hell.

– Nicholas Frankovich defends Cardinal Burke from the smears of some intellectually dishonest critics, including one at the National Catholic Fishwrap.

Distinguishing between sinner and sin is usually easy: The sin doesn’t define the sinner, and neither does the sinner define the sin. The David who committed adultery with Bathsheba was still, after all, David the apple of God’s eye. But the adultery he committed was still adultery. Our ability to think both thoughts simultaneously may be waning, although some people only pretend that they don’t understand. Their aim is to dumb down the conversation to the point that thinking has no place in it anymore. If their opponent has won the debate intellectually, what can they do? Ignore his ideas, deplore ideas generally (oh, those “doctors of the law,” those “Pharisees”!), and push sentiments (cheap “mercy,” the Catholic version of cheap grace) that they hope will appeal to the soft-headed child in us all.

– So this Google thing might be getting a wee bit out of control.

The question for voters who are watching the ongoing regulation battles should come when you compare the two different stories above. You have a company which is clearly in bed with the Obama administration in particular and the Democrats in general. And you also have a track record which indicates that they’re not shy about manipulating their search results when it works to their favor. How much faith should you then have that they are delivering news results or political analysis about various candidates and issue oriented questions in a consistent, agnostic fashion?

Of course I read this story on a Droid, using a Chrome browser, and am typing this all up on a Chromebook. So yeah.

– And now idiots.

A selfie-obsessed tourist apologized Sunday for posting an online pic of herself grinning at the site of the deadly East Village inferno.

Modal TriggerAfter The Post exposed her with a front-page story headlined “Village Idiots,” Christina Freundlich said she was “deeply sorry for my careless and distasteful post.”

“It was inconsiderate to those hurt in the crash and to the city of New York,” she said in an email to The Des Moines Register.

– And tonight’s music video.

23

The rise of the neo-Lutherans: Will there be a schism?

 

Watching last fall’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family from the sidelines, what was surprising was the level of rancor (and perhaps even acrimony) manifesting itself in the debate concerning, among other matters, the Church’s prohibition of divorced/remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion.

Media reports characterized the division this way:

  • The intelligent, sensitive, and pastoral “pro-Pope Francis” mercy faction (the theological liberals) were doing battle with the unintelligent, insensitive, and unpastoral “anti-Pope Francis” truth faction (the theological conservatives).
  • The leader of the former faction, Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany, provided the theoretical “Call to Arms” identifying his faction’s much-desired, if not much-anticipated changes to Church teaching. If Cardinal Kasper’s faction prevails, there will be changes to Church teaching. Read: A very good outcome!
  • The leader of the latter faction, Cardinal Raymond Burke, published a chapter in the book, Remaining in the Truth of Christ, reiterating the significance of longstanding Church teaching for the world today. If Cardinal Burke’s faction prevails, there will be no change in Church teaching. Read: A very bad outcome!

luther

That oversimplistic, pro-Kasper bifurcation of what transpired at the Extraordinary Synod distracts attention from what may really be in the offing, namely, the rise of neo-Lutherans who may cause a schism in the Church. Armed with very clever exegetical and political skills, this faction has already artfully devised a way to contort Jesus’ unambiguous teaching against both divorce and remarriage—read Remaining in the Truth of Christ to learn how—into a teaching that would allow for both divorce and remarriage. And the media is delighted.

Using divorced and remarried Catholics—who cannot receive Holy Communion—as public relations props in a strategy to stiffen opposition to Church teaching, the neo-Lutherans are, in reality, forcing Pope Francis to choose up sides in a theological battle. The outcome of that battle could end in schism:

  • If the Pope sides with the neo-Lutherans, his important words about mercy will be translated into Church teaching, all will be well with the world, and the orthodox faction will have taken quite a drubbing. At least, that’s what the Kapserites would have everyone believe.
  • If the Pope sides with the orthodox Burkites, well…er…ummm…there will be Hell to pay, as the Pope’s words about mercy will end up not being quite as generous as people have been led to believe and they will turn against Rome and the orthodox faction, emptying the pews even more. Again, at least, that’s what the neo-Lutherans would have everyone believe.

Apparently, the neo-Lutherans are as serious and as stubborn as was the Augustinian friar, Martin Luther, when in 1517 he posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church. To wit: Consider the words of the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Quoted in Die Tagespost (the original article having since been expunged from the website) stating:

We are not just a subsidiary of Rome. Each episcopal conference is responsible for the pastoral care in their culture and has to proclaim the Gospel in its own unique way. We cannot wait until a synod states something, as we have to carry out marriage and family ministry here.

Positioning himself squarely on the side of the mercy faction led by Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal Marx subsequently backtracked a bit, according to Vaticanista Andrea Gagliarducci.

Even so, the neo-Lutherans are on the march.

But, before concluding an investigation, the general rule is “Follow the money.”

Follow the money: It’s a well-known fact that church attendance in Germany (as in most Western, industrialized nations) is plummeting. What that means for the German bishops, in particular, is that income to their dioceses from the government—derived from a census of those who actually attend Mass—is way, way down.

What better way, then, to increase attendance at Mass in Germany? Extend mercy to the disaffected or alienated Catholics by changing Church teaching concerning divorce and remarriage. Then, all of those other disaffected and alienated Catholics can also be brought back to Mass by changing other Church teachings. However, that will take a bit of time. Right now, what’s imperative is to get one foot into the Porta Sancta at St. Peter’s Basilica, beginning with divorced and remarried Catholics.

porta sancta
The rationale? It’s not selling indulgences and would provide a great opening move in the larger strategy of reforming the Church…once again…via Deutschland.

All or none of that may have entered into Cardinal Kasper’s thought process or the German bishops’ discussions over which Cardinal Marx has presided.

Who’s to know? Only those who are privvy to such knowledge.

Even so, if one is to understand better what the neo-Lutherans may be up to, the facts cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Follow the money: Those coffers need to be replenished if the bishops are to be good stewards of the critical infrastructure and all the other blings in their possession. As has recently been exposed:

  • The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, led by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, has spent $150M on a new diocesan service center.
  • Cardinal Marx’s residence was renovated at a cost of $9M, paid for by the state of Bavaria. That’s not quite the 31m euros Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg spent to renovate his official residence, but $9M can go a long way to make a humble hermitage feel a bit more comfortable.

Follow the moneyIn his National Catholic Register article, Edward Pentin carefully lays out the critics’ argument that the German Bishops’ Conference has become more of a temporal than spiritual power.

Yes, follow the money.

Isn’t that what Martin Luther did when he initiated a schism that eventuated a Reformation?

 

 

 

To read about Cardinal Marx’s statement (as the original Die Tagespost article is no longer available online), click on the following link:
http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/german-bishops-we-are-not-just-a-subsidiary-of-rome/

To read Andrea Gagliarducci’s assessment, click on the following link:
http://www.mondayvatican.com/vatican/pope-francis-will-his-revolution-be-effective

To read Edward Pentin’s articles, click on the following links:
http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/germanys-bling-bishop-gets-new-post-in-rome/
http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/german-bishops-conferences-dance-with-the-material-world/

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

24

GenCon and the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Religious Freedom Restoration Act

 

Recently Indiana passed and the Governor signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  By doing so Indiana joined a majority of states which have such protections for religious freedom. There is also a federal version of the act which was passed overwhelmingly by Congress in 1993 and signed into law by President Clinton.  Here are the operative sections of both the Federal and State Acts:

 

Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—

(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and

(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

And here is the text of Indiana’s RFRA:

A governmental entity may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Go here for the complete text of the Act.  States enacted their own version of the statute because the Supreme Court in 1997 ruled rightfully that the federal act was not applicable to state laws or local ordinances.

What does this have to do with GenCon, the gaming convention held in Indianapolis that I and my bride have been attending since 1986?

Well, homosexual activists have been busily portraying this statute as a license to discriminate against gays, and the head of GenCon decided to get on this band wagon.  Go here to read the letter by Adrian Swartout.

The ignorance contained in the letter is simply stunning.   Swartout is apparently bone ignorant as to the federal version of the act and how many states have similar acts.  Swartout also is apparently  ignorant of the fact that the Act could only be used if a government seeks to discriminate against an individual or business on the basis of their religion.  The only possible applicability to homosexuals would be if a government sought to take action against a business that discriminated against gays.  The only businesses where such a contention would survive judicial analysis would be those where the owners could demonstrate that their religious beliefs forbid providing a service, such as baking a cake for a gay wedding.   The idea that this statute would have any impact on services provided to convention attendees in downtown Indie is simply farcial.  Of course all the hoopla about the Act has nothing to do with the law or facts, but everything to do with the flexing of political muscles by gay activists.  This tempest also demonstrates that religious freedom is simply not going to be tolerated by those who shriek loudest for tolerance.

March 30, 1865: Prelude to Five Forks

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By the 30th it became obvious to both sides that the Confederate right at Five Forks was in jeopardy.  Grant discusses this in his memoirs:

The next day, March 30th, we had made sufficient progress to the south-west to warrant me in starting Sheridan with his cavalry over by Dinwiddie with instructions to then come up by the road leading north-west to Five Forks, thus menacing the right of Lee’s line.  

This movement was made for the purpose of extending our lines to the west as far as practicable towards the enemy’s extreme right, or Five Forks. The column moving detached from the army still in the trenches was, excluding the cavalry, very small. The forces in the trenches were themselves extending to the left flank. Warren was on the extreme left when the extension began, but Humphreys was marched around later and thrown into line between him and Five Forks.    
My hope was that Sheridan would be able to carry Five Forks, get on the enemy’s right flank and rear, and force them to weaken their centre to protect their right so that an assault in the centre might be successfully made. General Wright’s corps had been designated to make this assault, which I intended to order as soon as information reached me of Sheridan’s success. He was to move under cover as close to the enemy as he could get.    
It is natural to suppose that Lee would understand my design to be to get up to the South Side and ultimately to the Danville Railroad, as soon as he had heard of the movement commenced on the 29th. These roads were so important to his very existence while he remained in Richmond and Petersburg, and of such vital importance to him even in case of retreat, that naturally he would make most strenuous efforts to defend them. He did on the 30th send Pickett with five brigades to reinforce Five Forks. He also sent around to the right of his army some two or three other divisions, besides directing that other troops be held in readiness on the north side of the James River to come over on call. He came over himself to superintend in person the defence of his right flank. Continue Reading

3

Palm Sunday One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago

The chiefs and the captains meet,
Lee erect in his best dress uniform,
His dress-sword hung at his side and his eyes unaltered.
Chunky Grant in his mudsplashed private’s gear
With the battered stars on his shoulders.
                                         They talk a while
Of Mexico and old days.
                       Then the terms are stated.
Lee finds them generous, says so, makes a request.
His men will need their horses for the spring-ploughing.
Grant assents at once.
                      There is no parade of bright sword’s
Given or taken.  Grant saw that there should not be.
It is over, then. . . .
                       Lee walks from the little room.
His face is unchanged.  It will not change when he dies.
But as he steps on the porch and looks toward his lines
He strikes his hands together once with a sound. . . .

In the room he has left, the blue men stare at each other
For a space of heartbeats, silent.  The grey ride off.
They are gone–it is over. . . .

The room explodes like a bomb, they are laughing and shouting,
Yelling strange words, dragging chairs and tables outdoors,
Bearded generals waltzing with one another
For a brief, wild moment, punching each others’ ribs,
Everyone talking at once and nobody listening,
“It’s over–it’s done–it’s finished!”
                                      Then, order again.
The grey ghost-army falls in for the last time,
Marching to stack its arms.
                           As the ranks move forward
The blue guns go to “Present.”  Gordon sees the gesture.
He sweeps his sabre down in the full salute.

There are no cheers or words from blue lines or grey.
Only the sound of feet. . . .
It is over, now. . . .
                      The arms are stacked from the war.
A few bronzed, tattered grey men, weeping or silent,
Tear some riddled bits of cloth from the color-staffs
And try to hide them under their uniforms.

Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown’s Body

 

 

 

 

I have always thought it appropriate that the national nightmare we call the Civil War ended during Holy Week 1865.  Two remarkably decent men, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, began the process of healing so desperately needed for America on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865 at Appomattox.  We take their decency for granted, but it is the exception and not the rule for the aftermath of civil wars in history.  The usual course would have been unremitting vengeance by the victors, and sullen rage by the defeated, perhaps eventually breaking out in guerilla war.  The end of the Civil War could so very easily have been the beginning of a cycle of unending war between north and south.  Instead, both Grant and Lee acted to make certain as far as they could that the fratricidal war that had just concluded would not be repeated.  All Americans owe those two men a large debt for their actions at Appomattox. Continue Reading

4

Triumph of the Cross

In Hoc Signo Vinces

 

(This is my regular post for Palm Sunday which I repost each year.  Have a happy and blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week.)

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

 

Thus did the prophet Zechariah, writing half a millennium before, predict the entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  How many such glorious entrances into cities have there been over the ages?  Every civilization I am aware of has such ceremonies, either parades in peace time or entrances of conquest or liberation in war time.  The Romans turned this into an art form with their triumphs, with the reminder of the slave to the imperator of  fleeting human mortality: “Respice post te, hominem memento te”.

Few such triumphs have turned into utter disaster as quickly as that of Jesus:  Jerusalem at His feet on Sunday, and Christ dead on a Roman Cross before the sun had set on Friday.  Small wonder that no contemporary historian or chronicler at the time took note.  However some sort of official report probably was filed after the crucifixion.  Writing circa 116 AD, and relying heavily on official records for his history, in regard to the great fire at Rome under Emperor Nero Tacitus states:

“15.44.2. But, despite kindly influence, despite the leader’s generous handouts, despite appeasing the gods, the scandal did not subside, rather the blaze came to be believed to be an official act. So, in order to quash the rumour, Nero blamed it on, and applied the cruelest punishments to, those sinners, whom ordinary people call Christians, hating them for their shameful behaviour. 15.44.3. The originator of this name, Christ, was sentenced to torture by Procurator Pontius Pilate, during the reign of Tiberius, but although checked for a moment, the deadly cult erupted again, not just in Judaea, the source of its evil, but even in Rome, where all the sins and scandals of the world gather and are glorified.”

Tacitus, clearly hostile to the Christians, points his finger at one of the great mysteries of history.  In human terms the Jesus movement was nipped in the bud at its inception.  Yet in less than three centuries the Roman emperor bowed before the cross.  The triumph of Palm Sunday led only to disaster, and the humiliation and death of the cross led to triumph in eternity and here on Earth.

For we Catholics, and for all other Christians, no explanation of this paradoxical outcome is needed.  However there is much here to ponder for non-believers and non-Christians.  In purely human terms the followers of Christ had no chance to accomplish anything:  no powerful supporters, no homeland embracing their faith, cultures, both Jewish and Gentile, which were hostile to the preaching of the Gospels, other religions which were well-established, the list of disadvantages could go on at considerable length.  We take the victory of Christianity for granted because it happened.  We forget how very improbable such a victory was. Even more improbable is that what began on Palm Sunday, the triumph of Jesus, has continued till today in spite of all challenges that two thousand years of human folly could cast up.  How very peculiar in mortal terms!

Let us give the last word to the patron saint of paradox G. K. Chesterton: Continue Reading

March 29, 1865: Battle of Lewis Farm

General Chamberlain

Battle of Lewis Farm

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 The Appomattox Campaign began on March 29, 1865, with Grant moving the V and II corps to the west to outflank Lee’s lines, while Sheridan and his troopers were sent south to rip up the rail lines linking Petersburg and Richmond to what remained of the Confederacy.  Lee, with that preternatural sixth sense he seemed to often possess regarding the intentions of his enemies, had moved his cavalry, along with infantry under Major General George Pickett to the west to beat off Union attempts to outflank his army.

The first Union objective was to cut the Boydton Plank Road.  After crossing Gravelley Run stream, the leading brigade of the first division of the V corps ran into Confederate fortifications.  The brigade was led by Brigadier Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the heroic officer who had commanded the 20th Maine during its stand on Little Round Top at Gettysburg. In a fierce action of several hours duration, Chamberlain held his position only falling back as Union reinforcements arrived.  The reinforcements caused the Confederates to retreat to their White Oak Line.  Union casualties were 381 to 371 Confederate.

Late in the afternoon Sheridan’s cavalry occupied Dinwiddie Court House without opposition.  The end of the day saw the vital, for the Confederates, Boydton Plank Road cut in two locations, and the Confederate right dangerously exposed.  Here is Chamberlain’s account of the fighting: Continue Reading

4

The Peacemakers

The Peacemakers

 

A historic meeting occurred between Lincoln, Grant and Sherman on March 27-28, 1865 at City Point, Virginia.  Sherman had no idea that President Lincoln was going to be there, he having traveled by sea from North Carolina to coordinate with Grant the final campaign of the War.  This meeting was memorialized in the 1868 painting The Peacemakers, which was suggested by Sherman:

In Chicago about June or July of that year, when all the facts were fresh in my mind, I told them to George P. A. Healy, the artist, who was casting about for a subject for an historical painting, and he adopted this interview. Mr. Lincoln was then dead, but Healy had a portrait, which he himself had made at Springfield some five or six years before. With this portrait, some existing photographs, and the strong resemblance in form of [Leonard Swett], of Chicago, to Mr. Lincoln he made the picture of Mr. Lincoln seen in this group. For General Grant, Admiral Porter, and myself he had actual sittings, and I am satisfied the four portraits in this group of Healy’s are the best extant. The original picture, life-size, is, I believe, now in Chicago, the property of Mr. [Ezra B. McCagg]; but Healy afterwards, in Rome, painted ten smaller copies, about eighteen by twenty-four inches, one of which I now have, and it is now within view. I think the likeness of Mr. Lincoln by far the best of the many I have seen elsewhere, and those of General Grant, Admiral Porter, and myself equally good and faithful. I think Admiral Porter gave Healy a written description of our relative positions in that interview, also the dimensions, shape, and furniture of the cabin of the “Ocean Queen”; but the rainbow is Healy’s—typical, of course, of the coming peace. In this picture I seem to be talking, the others attentively listening. Whether Healy made this combination from Admiral Porter’s letter or not, I cannot say; but I thought that he caught the idea from what I told him had occurred when saying that “if Lee would only remain in Richmond till I could reach Burkesville, we would have him between our thumb and fingers,” suiting the action to the word. It matters little what Healy meant by his historic group, but it is certain that we four sat pretty much as represented, and were engaged in an important conversation during the forenoon of March 28, 1865, and that we parted never to meet again.

The original painting was destroyed in a fire, and what we have now is a copy found in 1922, lying forgotten in a family storehouse in Chicago.  Harry Truman, ironically a proud card carrying member of Sons of Confederate Veterans, purchased the copy of the painting for the White House in 1947.

Here is Sherman’s recollections of the meeting from his Memoirs:

 

The railroad was repaired to Goldsboro’ by the evening of March 25th, when, leaving General Schofield in chief command, with a couple of staff-officers I started for City Point, Virginia, in a locomotive, in company with Colonel Wright, the constructing engineer. We reached Newbern that evening, which was passed in the company of General Palmer and his accomplished lady, and early the next morning we continued on to Morehead City, where General Easton had provided for us the small captured steamer Russia, Captain Smith. We put to sea at once and steamed up the coast, reaching Fortress Monroe on the morning of the 27th, where I landed and telegraphed to my brother, Senator Sherman, at Washington, inviting him to come down and return with me to Goldsboro. We proceeded on up James River to City Point, which we reached the same afternoon. I found General Grant, with his family and staff, occupying a pretty group of huts on the bank of James River, overlooking the harbor, which was full of vessels of all classes, both war and merchant, with wharves and warehouses on an extensive scale. The general received me most heartily, and we talked over matters very fully. After I had been with him an hour or so, he remarked that the President, Mr. Lincoln, was then on board the steamer River Queen, lying at the wharf, and he proposed that we should call and see him. We walked down to the wharf, went on board, and found Mr. Lincoln alone, in the after-cabin. He remembered me perfectly, and at once engaged in a most interesting conversation. He was full of curiosity about the many incidents of our great march, which had reached him officially and through the newspapers, and seemed to enjoy very much the more ludicrous parts-about the “bummers,” and their devices to collect food and forage when the outside world supposed us to be starving; but at the same time he expressed a good deal of anxiety lest some accident might happen to the army in North Carolina during my absence. I explained to him that that army was snug and comfortable, in good camps, at Goldsboro’; that it would require some days to collect forage and food for another march; and that General Schofield was fully competent to command it in my absence. Having made a good, long, social visit, we took our leave and returned to General Grant’s quarters, where Mrs. Grant had provided tea. While at the table, Mrs. Grant inquired if we had seen Mrs. Lincoln. “No,” said the general, “I did not ask for her;” and I added that I did not even know that she was on board. Mrs. Grant then exclaimed, “Well, you are a pretty pair!” and added that our neglect was unpardonable; when the general said we would call again the next day, and make amends for the unintended slight.

Early the next day, March 28th, all the principal officers of the army and navy called to see me, Generals Meade, Ord, Ingalls, etc., and Admiral Porter. At this time the River Queen was at anchor out in the river, abreast of the wharf, and we again started to visit Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. Admiral Porter accompanied us. We took a small, tug at the wharf, which conveyed us on board, where we were again received most courteously by the President, who conducted us to the after-cabin. After the general compliments, General Grant inquired after Mrs. Lincoln, when the President went to her stateroom, returned, and begged us to excuse her, as she was not well. We then again entered upon a general conversation, during which General Grant explained to the President that at that very instant of time General Sheridan was crossing James River from the north, by a pontoon-bridge below City Point; that he had a large, well-appointed force of cavalry, with which he proposed to strike the Southside and Danville Railroads, by which alone General Lee, in Richmond, supplied his army; and that, in his judgment, matters were drawing to a crisis, his only apprehension being that General Lee would not wait long enough. I also explained that my army at Goldsboro’ was strong enough to fight Lee’s army and Johnston’s combined, provided that General Grant could come up within a day or so; that if Lee would only remain in Richmond another fortnight, I could march up to Burkesville, when Lee would have to starve inside of his lines, or come out from his intrenchments and fight us on equal terms.

Both General Grant and myself supposed that one or the other of us would have to fight one more bloody battle, and that it would be the last. Mr. Lincoln exclaimed, more than once, that there had been blood enough shed, and asked us if another battle could not be avoided. I remember well to have said that we could not control that event; that this necessarily rested with our enemy; and I inferred that both Jeff. Davis and General Lee would be forced to fight one more desperate and bloody battle. I rather supposed it would fall on me, somewhere near Raleigh; and General Grant added that, if Lee would only wait a few more days, he would have his army so disposed that if the enemy should abandon Richmond, and attempt to make junction with General Jos. Johnston in North Carolina, he (General Grant) would be on his heels. Mr. Lincoln more than once expressed uneasiness that I was not with my army at Goldsboro’, when I again assured him that General Schofield was fully competent to command in my absence; that I was going to start back that very day, and that Admiral Porter had kindly provided for me the steamer Bat, which he said was much swifter than my own vessel, the Russia. During this interview I inquired of the President if he was all ready for the end of the war. What was to be done with the rebel armies when defeated? And what should be done with the political leaders, such as Jeff. Davis, etc.? Should we allow them to escape, etc.? He said he was all ready; all he wanted of us was to defeat the opposing armies, and to get the men composing the Confederate armies back to their homes, at work on their farms and in their shops. As to Jeff. Davis, he was hardly at liberty to speak his mind fully, but intimated that he ought to clear out, “escape the country,” only it would not do for him to say so openly. As usual, he illustrated his meaning by a story: Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: Liquefy

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

 

Just days after St. Gennaro’s blood liquefied after Pope Francis kissed the relic in Naples, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told EOTT that he would be able to” liquefy the entire thing if really wanted to.”

In an exclusive interview with EOTT this morning, the former pope said that the same vial of hardened blood had not liquefied when he kissed it in 2007 simply because he hadn’t tried to liquefy it hard enough.

“If I had wanted it to liquefy, you better believe I would’ve liquefied the heck out of that thing,” Benedict said as he clenched his fists and bent his neck to the side to crack it. “You wanna know something? I think it started liquefying for Francis until it realized it wasn’t me kissing it, and so it stopped. I’m not saying that as fact…it’s just a theory going around.”

Benedict went on to say that not only would he be able to liquefy the entire vial of blood, but also the vial and reliquary as well. Continue Reading

3

Hallelujah

 

Something for the weekend.  Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus performed as the Recessional Hymn at St. Francis Xavier Church in New York City on Easter Sunday March 31, 2013.  Although The Messiah has become identified with Christmas, the Hallelujah Chorus is clearly in the Easter section of The Messiah.  The conclusion of the film The Greatest Story Ever Told, got this right: Continue Reading

1

Screen Pilates: Dennis King

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks, Cyril Richard and Stephen Moyer may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here, here and here.

Give us Barabbas was a Hallmark Hall of Fame tv movie shown in 1961.  Pilate makes a brief appearance at the beginning of the film, asking the mob to choose between Barabbas and Christ.    Washing his hands after Barabbas is chosen, Pilate, portrayed by Dennis King, seems very eager to end his role in what he clearly views as a very distasteful business.  Eaten up by curiosity Barabbas has an interview with Pilate in which he questions why Christ had to die.  Pilate responds that Christ spoke in riddles that puzzled Pilate and gave Pilate no grounds to spare his life.  Pilate is filled with grief over the death of Christ, but does not see what else he could have done.  King portrays Pilate with a great sense of world weariness, a man nearing the end of his career who did not want any involvement in this matter for which he is alone to be remembered.

It is almost a shame that this was not Barabbas the Musical as King was a noted singer, and for decades was  star on Broadway.  He never did much feature film work, and today is chiefly remembered for his work in early television.  He died in 1971.  The author of the screenplay, Henry Denker, who originally studied to be a rabbi, before making a ghastly error and becoming an attorney prior to finding his life long avocation of writing, often Christian themed religious dramas, lived until 2012, passing away at age 99.

Audience reception for the film was good and it was replayed for years near Easter on NBC.

10

PopeWatch: Cardinal Koch

 

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There seems to be a growing trend of Orthodox Cardinals standing up for the faith.  Father Z, via Lifesite News, brings us the latest:

His Eminence Kurt. Card. Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity (Card. Kasper’s old billet), has firmly rejected the progressivist notions which Card. Müller called “absolutely anti-Catholic”.  From LifeSite with my emphases and comments:

Vatican cardinal tells German bishops: We can’t adapt the faith to the times like Christians did under the Nazis

ROME, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An influential Swiss cardinal at the Vatican has warned Germany’s bishops that the Church cannot merely adapt itself to the times as some Christians did in order to support the Nazis.

In an interview with the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost, Cardinal Kurt Koch firmly (but politely) refuted the proposal of Cardinal Reinhard Marx and Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, both delegates to the upcoming Synod on the Family, that the Catholic Church has to adjust herself more to the “life realities” of Catholics today, and liberalize its attitude toward remarried divorcees. Cardinal Marx had even declared that the German bishops will make their pastoral decisions independently of Rome.  [Boooo!]

Cardinal Koch’s comments followed a strong rebuke of Cardinal Marx by German Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes. “A Cardinal cannot easily separate the pastoral approach from the teaching,” Cardinal Cordes said, “unless he wants to ignore the binding meaning of Christ’s words and the binding words of the Council of Trent.”

Cardinal Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said that Bode’s words should remind us of a similar historical situation: namely the time of the Third Reich, where the “German Christians” adjusted their faith to the worldview of National Socialism, namely its racist and nationalistic ideas. [Wow.  That will get their attention.] He said: “Let us think of the ‘German Christians’ during the time of National Socialism, when, next to the Holy Scripture, they also raised up the Nation and the Race as sources of revelation, against which the Theological Declaration of Barmen (1934) [which rejected the submission of the Protestant churches under the state] protested. We have to differentiate very carefully here and listen with sensitivity to the signs of the times – and to the spirit that reveals itself in these signs: Which ones are signs of the Gospel, which ones are not?”

With this comment, Koch made clear that it is not the Catholic Church’s mission to adapt her irreformable teaching to the spirit of the time, the Zeitgeist, but, rather, the Church has to follow Christ’s teaching at all times, throughout history.

In this context, it is wise to point to that part of German history, where many Christians, mainly Protestants of the movement called “German Christians,” subjected parts of Christ’s teaching under the ideology of Adolf Hitler. Such an adaptation might have sounded convincing at the time, but there will also always be a “time after,” where many Christians then had to regret their inordinate submission to such a false teaching.

In reference to our own time, we can apply Cardinal Koch’s words and determine not to adapt to a morally lax atmosphere that has spread throughout the Western world since the cultural revolution of the 1960s, which now also permeates more and more of the culture of the Catholic Church. The standard of Christ is still applicable now, and will always be – it is timely, and timeless.

[NB] Cardinal Koch thus insisted that it is dangerous to declare “life realities” as a third source of revelation: “To see how and in which way people are living their Faith today, is of course helpful and important, in order to recognize the challenges of the pastoral duties of the Church. However, this [the “life realities”] cannot be a third reality of the revelation next to Holy Scripture and the Magisterium.”

Continue Reading

1

Grant Plans His Attack

General Ulysses Grant

 Grant, a failure all of his life except for war, marriage and his last valiant race with the Grim Reaper to finish his memoirs and provide for the financial security of his family;  seemingly a dull plodder, but possessed of iron determination and an uncanny ability to never let the trees obscure the forest;  happily married and a firm believer in God, but subject to bouts of depression, usually when his wife was absent, when he would grasp for the bottle;  the shabby little man who won the greatest war in American history. 

 

 

On March 24, 1865 Grant sent out his movement order for the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James.  Grant planned a vast move to the west to force Lee to come out of his entrenchments to avoid Grant outflanking him on his right.  While this was going on, Sheridan would strike with the Union cavalry to sever the rail lines linking Richmond and Petersburg to the dwindling remainder of the Confederacy.  Grant planned for the movement to begin on March 29, 1865, taking advantage of the good weather that had dried the roads.  The Appomattox campaign was about to begin. Continue Reading

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Various & Sundry, 3/26/15

– Was Jesus a nonviolent pacifist?

No.

Kids climbing on a statue by the Vietnam War Memorial? End of civilization as we know it or no big deal? Or maybe something in between.

– Who says economics can’t be exciting? Well, pretty much everyone, but it can be enlightening.

The best way to (in Barack Obama’s 2008 words to Joe the Plumber) “spread the wealth around,” is, Tamny argues, “to leave it in the hands of the wealthy.” Personal consumption absorbs a small portion of their money and the remainder is not idle. It is invested by them, using the skill that earned it. Will it be more beneficially employed by the political class of a confiscatory government?

– On a related note, James Lileks on the power of the Apple watch. He takes some fun shots at those who lament the unequal distribution of goodies.

It’s so different today. Every morning an executive in a $100,000 car is driving through the housing projects, when suddenly he really, you know, looks around for once, and understands. Like the hero of Metropolis, he clasps his hands to his breast and cries out with his newfound solidarity with the toiling and the idle. Half of these guys pull over, toss someone the keys, and take the bus the rest of the way. So if you put them in cars where they can’t look out, they will never develop social conscience. Also, all personal jets should have glass bottoms and fly at a maximum altitude of 750 feet.

– Chefs weigh in on the central question of our time? Is Chicago style deep dish pizza even pizza?

Not really.

I’ve never been a fan. I feel like it’s a lasagna with a crust.

Bread with tomato sauce is how I’d describe it. But to each his own.

1

Lincoln to City Point

Lincoln 1860 and 1865

 

 

Anyone looking at photographs of Lincoln in 1860 and 1865 can’t help but see how much the War aged him.  By March 1865 Grant thought that Lincoln could use some time away from Washington, and suggested to him that he visit Grant at his headquarters at City Point, Virginia on the James River.   Lincoln readily agreed and on March 23, 1865 left for City Point, along with his wife and Tad.  In his last month of life, he would spend eighteen days at City Point. Continue Reading

14

PopeWatch: Pizza

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Save ceremony, save general ceremony?

And what art thou, thou idol ceremony?

What kind of god art thou, that suffer’st more

Of mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?

What are thy rents? What are thy comings in?

O ceremony, show me but thy worth!

Henry V

PopeWatch has a great deal of sympathy for any Pope.  Elevated to the throne of Peter, a normal life is gone forever, and so many simple things become impossible for them.  This was demonstrated by Pope Francis in this poignant story:

After revealing earlier this month that he missed being able to grab a slice of pizza in peace, Francis received a delicious surprise from an Italian pizzeria on Saturday — a handcrafted pie in the Vatican’s colors delivered straight to his popemobile.

“The only thing I’d like to do is to be able to go out one day without anyone recognizing me and go get a pizza,” the pope said during an interview with the Mexican broadcaster Televisa.

Roberto Biscardi, owner of Pizzeria Don Ernesto in Naples, told The Huffington Post that his team jumped into action after hearing the pope’s comment.

“Pizza is the most important food in Naples,” Biscardi wrote to HuffPost. “That was a great occasion for us to give the Pope the love we have for him. He is a great person.”

The pizzeria’s head chef, Enzo Cacialli, used the Vatican’s official colors, white and gold, as inspiration. The pizza was topped with white buffalo mozzarella and yellow cherry tomatoes, with an added layer of fresh ricotta cheese, Biscardi said. With dough, Cacialli spelled out the words “Il Papa.”

In a YouTube video, Cacialli can be seen scrambling over a security barrier to hand the pope his creation. The pope’s vehicle slowed down slightly and Francis grabbed the pie with both hands.

“He said: ‘Thank you, son. I will eat it later,’” Biscardi said.

Continue Reading

16

Make His Ears Ring

 

 

 

 

 

Or rather no doubt make the ears of his staff ring since I suspect that Bishop Bootkoski will not be picking up the phone himself. The Lepanto Institute is doing what I am sure bishops truly hate: exposing them when they cravenly crawl in reaction to “outrage” when Catholic teaching is supported by a Catholic teacher:

 

Bishop Paul Bootkoski is playing defense these days, as a series of radio commercials urge Catholic faithful around the country to call the bishop and ask why a Catholic schoolteacher may lose her job for rejecting arguments for gay “marriage” on her private Facebook page.

The Lepanto Institute, headed by Michael Hichborn, aired two radio ads during the Rush Limbaugh’s and Sean Hannity’s radio shows on WOR on two days. “It’s wrong that a Catholic school teacher is fired for defending Catholic teachings on a Facebook post,” he said.

Last Friday’s ad encouraged listeners to “call Bishop Bootkoski now, 732-562-1990” and “ask him whose side he’s on: Catholics who defend our faith or Hollywood liberals who mock it.”

“Tell Bishop Bootkoski to put our values ahead of political correctness,” he said.

Another ad that ran yesterday accused the bishop of “trying to cover up her firing.”

Controversy and confusion has surrounded Patricia Jannuzzi who – depending on whose story you believe – is or was a 57-year-old teacher of theology at Immaculata High School in New Jersey. Continue Reading

2

Annunciation

The Annunciation

Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.

John Donne

7

Various & Sundry, 3/25/15

– Today’s manufactured news outrage: Ted Cruz goes on Obamacare.

Inconceivable! How could the most prominent anti-Obamacare Senator buy insurance through Obamacare? Errr, because he basically had to. His wife is going on a leave of absence from her position at Goldman Sachs, so the Cruz family had to make a decision.

Cruz currently gets his insurance through his wife’s plan. That insurance is suspended once she takes a leave of absence to campaign with him, leaving him with three options. He can decline to purchase insurance, which no husband and father with the means to get coverage would ever do. His wife could use COBRA to keep her Goldman Sachs insurance intact for another 18 months, which would cost the family a bunch and would leave them uninsured circa October 2016 when the coverage lapses (assuming Mrs. Cruz hasn’t returned to work by then). Or he can follow the Grassley rule and buy an unsubsidized ObamaCare exchange plan, as federal law requires of members of Congress. Why, oh why, might Cruz prefer what’s behind door number three notwithstanding his ferocious opposition to ObamaCare? Anyone want to guess why a guy running for president as a loud-and-proud populist might choose to subject himself to the same unpopular program that millions of Americans are coping with right now?

As Cruz himself noted, he also wants to abolish the IRS and yet he continues to pay taxes. Double hypocrite!

– I guess “hands up don’t shoot” only garners media attention under certain circumstances.

Two high school freshmen were arrested in connection with the killing of a man walking his dog last week in Philadelphia’s Overbrook section. A third teen, who police say actually pulled the trigger, is still on the loose.

Brandon Smith, 15, was arrested Thursday and charged in the murder of James Patrick Stuhlman, who plead for his life before he was gunned down while walking his dog along the 6400 block of Woodcrest Avenue last Thursday night, police said.

—-

“At one point he did plead for his life,” said Clark. “He said, ‘please don’t shoot me, please don’t shoot me,’ and they still shot him one time.”

Stuhlman usually took his 13-year old daughter with him on these walks. Fortunately she didn’t go this time.

– So we’ve pretty much reached the end of western civilization. It’s been nice knowing you.

“Get Hard” casts Ferrell as a casually racist investment banker brought down for a crime he didn’t commit. To prep for prison, he hires a black car wash attendant (Hart) to teach him how to survive in the Big House. He just assumes Hart’s character is a thug, even though he’s a squeaky clean family man. Let the barrage of racial stereotypes commence.

The movie is evidently poking fun at racism. But you see, poking fun at racism is now, according to the geniuses who are decrying this movie, racist.

Oh, it gets worse.

Another Variety story suggested the fact that Ferrell’s character isn’t eager to perform oral sex on a man might be “homophobic.”

That’s it, I’m tapping out.

– A rather thoughtful rumination by Yuval Levin on the philosophic underpinnings of conservatism and libertarianism.

Conservatism inherently points in this direction for reasons that are anthropological, sociological, and epistemological (if you’ll pardon my street slang). We conservatives tend to see the human person as an incorrigible mass of contradictions: a fallen and imperfect being created in a divine image, a creature possessed of fundamental dignity and inalienable rights but always prone to excess and to sin and ever in need of self-restraint and moral formation. This gives us high standards but low expectations of human affairs and makes us wary of utopianisms of all stripes. It also causes us to be more impressed with successful human institutions than we are outraged at failed ones, and so to be protective of our inheritance and eager to build on the longstanding institutions of our society (rather than engineer new ones) to improve things because they are likely to possess more knowledge than we can readily perceive—and more than any collection of technical experts, however capable, is ever likely to have.
This anthropology informs our sociology. The conservative vision of society is moved by a low opinion of the capacity of individuals to address complex problems even as it is informed by a high regard for the rights and freedoms of those individuals. It therefore seeks for social arrangements and institutions that counterbalance human failures and encourage individual moral progress while respecting human liberty and dignity. And it finds these in the mediating institutions of a free society—families, communities, civic and religious groups, markets, and more—that stand between the individual and the state.

Much more at the link.

– The Curt Jester provides some musings on “Mass Etiquette.” Yep, I’ve had many of these thoughts at Mass as well.

8

Screen Pilates: Stephen Moyer

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas, Frank Thring, Stephen Russell, Greg Hicks and Cyril Richard may be viewed  here, here, here, here  here , here, here, here and here.

Stephen Moyer portrays Pilate in the upcoming National Geographic TV Killing Jesus, which is being shown on Palm Sunday at 7:00 PM Central Time.  Based on the book Killing Jesus, by Bill O’Reilly, who improbably has reaped a fortune from Killing Lincoln, Killing KennedyKilling Patton and now Killing Jesus, I will watch  this and attempt to rid my mind against my settled conviction that O’Reilly is a buffoon and a blowhard of the first order.  To be fair I have watched both of the television movies based on Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy and enjoyed both of them.

Stephen Moyer is the first screen portrayal of Pilate in the Screen Pilates series whose performance has not yet been released to the public.  I am bringing it to the attention of the blog now, in order for blog readers to watch the film and give their opinions regarding the performance in the combox after the movie.  Moyer has described himself as a lapsed atheist so that might add an interesting touch to his portrayal.

From the film clip it appears as if Moyer might be portraying Pilate as a harried politician, but no assessment of the performance will be made by me until after the film when I will update this post.

Update:

Well that was disappointing.  Moyer played Pilate as a weak man.  Throughout the film Caiaphas is putting pressure on him to have Jesus executed.  After Jesus is scourged, Pilate says that scourging is enough, and that He may not survive the scourging anyway, since many do not.  Caiaphas repeats the demand, Pilate nods weakly, and Jesus is crucified.  No second trial before Pilate.  No Ecce Homo, no Barabbas and no washing of hands.  It was like watching Hamlet in a version where the “To Be or Not to Be” speech is cut.  A waste of three hours.

 

5

PopeWatch: Cardinal Cordes

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One of the interesting aspects of the current pontificate is how freely conflict within the Church is breaking out into the open.  Courtesy of Rorate Caeli, here is the takedown by Cardinal Cordes of Cardinal Marx:

 

 

Vatican City. Authorised summary of a letter to the editor of the “Tagespost” from March 7, 2015, in which Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes, former president of the papal work COR UNUM, publicly refutes some statements made by Reinhard Cardinal Marx and Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück at the plenary meeting of the German bishops in Hildesheim:

During the conciliar debate on the relevance of social or ecclesiastical phenomena for the Faith the arguments focused on the biblical expression “signs of the times.” However, the debate of the Council Fathers had as its result that it would be erroneous to discover the “signs of the times” in human life simply as a “source for the Faith”, and they explicitly rejected the embarrassing shortcut that a phenomenon challenging the Church would as such already be a source of the Faith (Locus Theologicus). On the contrary, the Vatican II constitution on “Divine Revelation” leaves no doubt that the Faith of the Catholic Church is nourished by Scripture and ecclesiastical tradition only. Independent of this unambiguous direction it would be paradox to attribute to a small group of members of the Church, who live in a spiritually pitiable but objectively irregular situation, the function of a source of the Faith.

Continue Reading

March 25, 1865: Battle of Fort Stedman

 

220px-Jbgordon

 

On March 25, 1865, the Army of Northern Virginia embarked on its last offensive.  Here is the account of John B. Gordon, who commanded the assault on Fort Stedman:

 

My troops stood in close column, ready for the hazardous rush upon Fort Stedman. While the fraternal dialogue in reference to drawing rations from the cornfield was progressing between the Union picket and the resourceful private at my side, the last of the obstructions in my front were removed, and I ordered the private to fire the signal for the assault. He pointed his rifle upward, with his finger on the trigger, but hesitated. His conscience seemed to get hold of him. He was going into the fearful charge, and he evidently did not feel disposed to go into eternity with the lie on his lips, although it might be a permissible war lie, by which he had thrown the Union picket off his guard. He evidently felt that it was hardly fair to take advantage of the generosity and soldierly sympathy of his foe, who had so magnanimously assured him that he would not be shot while drawing his rations from the little field of corn. His hesitation surprised me, and I again ordered :
“Fire your gun, sir.” He at once called to his kind- hearted foe and said : ” Hello, Yank ! Wake up ; we are going to shell the woods. Look out; we are coming.” And with this effort to satisfy his conscience and even up accounts with the Yankee picket, he fired the shot and rushed forward in the darkness.

As the solitary signal shot rang out in the stillness, my alert pickets, who had crept close to the Union sentinels, sprang like sinewy Ajaxes upon them and prevented the discharge of a single alarm shot. Had these faithful Union sentinels been permitted to fire alarm guns, my dense columns, while rushing upon the fort, would have been torn into fragments by the heavy guns. Simultaneously with the seizing and silencing of the Federal sentinels, my stalwart axemen leaped over our breastworks, closely followed by the selected 300 and the packed column of infantry. Although it required but a few minutes to reach the Union works, those minutes were to me like hours of suspense and breathless anxiety ; but soon was heard the thud of the heavy axes as my brave fellows slashed down the Federal obstructions. The next moment the infantry sprang upon the Union breastworks and into the fort, overpowering the gunners before their destructive charges could be emptied into the mass of Confederates. They turned this captured artillery upon the flanking lines on each side of the fort, clearing the Union breastworks of their defenders for some distance in both directions. Up to this point, the success had exceeded my most sanguine expectations. We had taken Fort Stedman and a long line of breastworks on either side. We had captured nine heavy cannon, eleven mortars, nearly 1000 prisoners, including General McLaughlin, with the loss of less than half a dozen men. One of these fell upon the works, pierced through the body by a Federal bayonet, one of the few men thus killed in the four years of war. I was in the fort myself, and relieved General McLaughlin by assuming command of Fort Stedman. 

***************************

Daylight was coming. Through the failure of the three guides, we had failed to occupy the three forts in the rear, and they were now filled with Federals. Our wretched railroad trains had broken down, and the troops who were coming to my aid did not reach me. The full light of the morning revealed the gathering forces of Grant and the great preponderance of his numbers. It was impossible for me to make further headway with my isolated corps, and General Lee directed me to withdraw. This was not easily accomplished. Foiled by the failure of the guides, deprived of the great bodies of infantry which Lee ordered to my support, I had necessarily stretched out my corps to occupy the intrenchments which we had captured. The other troops were expected to arrive and join in the
general advance. The breaking down of the trains and the non-arrival of these heavy supports left me to battle alone with Grant’s gathering and overwhelming forces, and at the same time to draw in my own lines toward Fort Stedman. A consuming fire on both flanks and front during this withdrawal caused a heavy loss to my command. Continue Reading

21

Various & Sundry, 3/24/15

– Ted Cruz has announced his candidacy for the presidency, so cue the first round of GOP infighting, of which more is sure to come. I agree with parts of Sean Saffron’s take, though I think he is generally too dismissive of Cruz overall. All things being equal, I would prefer someone with executive experience. That being said, comparisons to Barack Obama are not completely fair. Yes, both men hadn’t served even half a Senate term before announcing their candidacies for the presidency, but that’s where the comparisons end. Barack Obama taught some constitutional law, while Ted Cruz argued cases before the Supreme Court (and won). Barack Obama’s main accomplishment was writing not one, but two autobiographies before actually doing anything of substance. Cruz’s pre-Senate experience dwarfs Obama’s. That doesn’t mean Cruz should be the leading contender, or that his lack of executive experience shouldn’t be an issue, but he’s not the GOP version of Obama.

Then there’s much other silliness regarding Cruz, as he’s attracted his own set of birther nonsense. Sorry, he’s a natural born citizen. Meanwhile Cruz has drawn criticism from such Republican luminaries as Donald Trump and Peter King, the latter of whom opined “So, to me, he is just a guy with a big mouth and no results.”Seriously, Peter King thinks that Ted Cruz has a big mouth and gets no results. Let that sink in. Next up we’ll be hearing from Bill Clinton and his concerns about Cruz possibly being sexually immodest.

– On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats are still wondering who might be able to fill-in in case Hillary bows out. Don’t you worry Democrats, you’ve got a can’t miss front-runner. You know who I’m talking about:

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will be the choice of New York Democrats for president if Hillary Rodham Clinton is forced out of the race by her State Department e-mail scandal, a prominent Democrat has told The Post.

. . . .

O’Malley, an all-but-announced candidate who was on a campaign swing in Iowa over the weekend, “is the one who I think is going to emerge as the front-runner if Hillary is forced out,’’ said the Democrat, a strong Clinton backer whose views carry considerable weight with party members.

Here it comes.

– The Diocese of Metuchen offers us a real profile in courage.

This week the plot thickens, with the diocese telling the New Jersey press that Jannuzzi has never been told she was fired, and they are “baffled” why anyone (especially Jannuzzi’s family) is suggesting otherwise.

Yesterday, Patricia Jannuzzi’s lawyer finally spoke to the press in response to this statement, and what he said is not pretty for the diocese: “At every point in our discussions the diocesan lawyers told us repeatedly there was no way that Patricia Jannuzzi would ever come back to the Immaculata classroom under any possible scenario,” Oakley told MyCentralJersey.com. “On Thursday by phone, the diocesan lawyers told me clearly and finally that Patricia Jannuzzi would be terminated as of the end of August, end of discussion.”

– What could possibly go wrong by over-coddling our children? They can turn into hyper-sensitive snowflakes who can’t tolerate the idea that someone somewhere is expressing an opinion with which they disagree.

KATHERINE BYRON, a senior at Brown University and a member of its Sexual Assault Task Force, considers it her duty to make Brown a safe place for rape victims, free from anything that might prompt memories of trauma. So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of feministing.com, and Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term “rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. “Bringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people’s experiences,” she told me. It could be “damaging.”

Ms. Byron and some fellow task force members secured a meeting with administrators. Not long after, Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, announced that the university would hold a simultaneous, competing talk to provide “research and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault.” Meanwhile, student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.

The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.

– On the other hand, even some on the left are starting to think this hypersensitive pc stuff has gotten way out of hand.

– Sure “Jackie” may have been completely lying, but her lies reveal much about a deeper truth. Or something.

– Huzzah! Some states are finally starting to see the light about daylight savings time. Unfortunately my state is not among them, and some want to keep it year round rather than jettisoning it altogether.

42

PopeWatch: Archbishop: Luigi Negri

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Perhaps Pope Francis can read this, courtesy of Rorate Caeli, if he can take time out from his climate change encyclical or dealing with the two greatest problems confronting the world in his opinion:  lonely geezers and youth unemployment:

 

Ancient Statues and bas-reliefs were toppled down by bearded men who then proceeded to destroy them by using jackhammers. This is the latest video released by ISIS in Mosul.  It is the continuation of a campaign against remnants of the past. Islamic State militants have been blowing up places of worship, feeding flames with books taken from libraries, and destroying a part of Nineveh’s city walls, the ancient Assyrian capital in the outskirts of present-day Mosul. These images, spread by a Twitter account used by the Caliphate, show the methodical destruction perpetrated in the rooms of what looks like a museum in Mosul. During the five-minute long video, we notice museum labels in Arabic and English describing exhibited artefacts. It is because of this that we have recorded the comments of Mons. Luigi Negri, the Archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio.

 

I hope that the technological means which our society uses – and oftentimes abuses – can vividly preserve for future generations the images of such terrible scenes of barbarism which we have been able to see “live” in different parts of the world. This is rage, much more demented than barbaric, against the artistic expressions of one of the greatest ages of world culture, which have been handed down with devotion and respect from one generation to another, from one culture to another, from one civilization to another. And so culture and civilization are not exclusive, unlike the case of this horrendous ideology, even if it is religious. Culture and Civilization are inclusive and even know how to incorporate cultural and historical realities not born from the limitations of their proper milieu; thereby becoming all the more enriched. 

 

It has rightly occurred to those few men of culture who yet still exist in this weak society, the great Catholic tradition which for ages and ages has welcomed the expressions of classical culture, both Greek and Roman, and then later on of other traditions even of the Far East.

 

It is enough to recall the passionate dedication, for example, with which the Benedictine school and later on, the Cistercian, have received, guarded, copied, recopied, and commented on the documents of classical tradition. It is this movement of reception and greater understanding that has produced the great culture of monasteries, of convents, and then of great universities, as taught to us in an incomparable manner by the great Fr. Chenu, and in Italy by the renowned Don Inos Biffi. 

 

This capacity of reception, of respect, of greater understanding has been crushed. Its vilest expression is the destruction of the diverse. In reality as well, we Europeans have experienced this.  We have seen before our very eyes the destruction of preceding traditions perpetrated, for example, by the French Revolution which European secularism still considers an undisputed point of departure. Regrettably, it is not only the secularists but it is also a certain sector of the Catholic world that considers the French Revolution as an unsurpassable event for the good. 

 

In advance, the West has seen its own end. In the tragedy brought to completion within Mosul’s beautiful museum which preserved the highest masterpieces of artistry from a great culture; the West sees the death of its very own civilization which was called to mind in an unequalled manner by Benedict XVI in his misunderstood Regensburg address. The great Western Civilization is a civilization in which myriad ways of life, of thought, of customs have known and know how to encounter, understand, value, and contend with each other if necessary, for the sake of developing human life and history which is the mark of a civilization. 

 

This civilization, whether we like it or not, is now ending if it has not truly and already ended. The horizon is marred by the black flag of the Caliphate, under which lies dead the freedom of conscience and of the heart, of movement, the liberty to live in a dignified way, and to profess one’s own convictions in a free and responsible manner. 

 

This atrocity, all atrocities have been transformed into casual occurrences by the surreal fantasies of western man. He can quickly read of them in newspapers or on social networks; news headlines flashing at the bottom of the television while he eats tranquilly; as if they were current events from another world. 

 

Civilization has ended. A society on the brink of death would not even have the capacity to initiate an authentic and critical examination of its own life. If it would do so, what shall be unveiled are all those who, knowingly or unknowingly, have arranged and continue to prepare in more diverse ways its own death. These are all those who have persecuted dialogue beyond all limits; all those who deep inside themselves have more fear of the Christian Faith than the barbarism of fundamentalist Islamic Ideology. Maybe, the responsibility can be claimed, above all, by all those who have apostatized; while apostatizing from Christ, they have apostatized from themselves. Since man is always intimately linked to a society; by apostatizing from themselves, they have destroyed civilization.

Continue Reading

The Last Confederate Offensive

Fort Stedman

 

Few generals in American history have been as aggressive as Robert E. Lee.  Faced with a hopeless military situation in March of 1865, he decided that he had no alternative but to launch an attack.  His starving army was down to 50,000 men, and with the lines around Petersburg and Richmond so extensive, when Grant began to move with an army nearly three times the size of Lee’s it did not take a military genius to realize that he would break Lee’s lines.  However, if Lee could break Grant’s lines first, it might buy Lee time.  Grant would perhaps consolidate his lines around the breakthrough and delay his Spring offensive.  That might give General Joseph E. Johnston sufficient time to march up ahead of Sherman from North Carolina and link up with Lee.  At that time Lee could attempt to defeat Sherman and then Grant seriatim.  The plan relied far too much on hopes and wishes, but other than surrender, it was the best of the bleak options facing Lee. Continue Reading

27

Conversation About Race

 

White Starbucks

 

 

Starbucks, that purveyor of overpriced beverages by underpaid workers, decided last week to have a “conversation” on race with its customers, and after an avalanche of ridicule they have ended it.

Howard D. Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks, said in a letter to employees on Sunday that baristas would no longer be encouraged to write the phrase “Race Together” on customers’ coffee cups, drawing to a close a widely derided component of the company’s plan to promote a discussion on racial issues.

“While there has been criticism of the initiative — and I know this hasn’t been easy for any of you — let me assure you that we didn’t expect universal praise,” Mr. Schultz wrote.

Having baristas write on customers’ cups, Mr. Schultz wrote, “which was always just the catalyst for a much broader and longer-term conversation — will be completed as originally planned today, March 22.”

That end date had not previously been mentioned publicly, including during Mr. Schultz’s discussion of the initiative at the company’s annual shareholders meeting last week, but a company spokeswoman, Laurel Harper, said employees had been told about it.

Asked whether Starbucks was reacting to criticism, Ms. Harper said, “That is not true at all. When we initially began the Race Together initiative, what we wanted to do is spark the conversation, because we believe that is the first step in a complicated issue.”

She added, “Leading change isn’t an easy thing to accomplish.”

The initiative, which began last week, was mocked with such vehemence on social media that the company’s senior vice president for global communications deleted his Twitter account because, as he wrote on Medium, he felt “personally attacked in a cascade of negativity.” Continue Reading

20

PopeWatch: Hell, Damnation and Pope Francis

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

[41] Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 25: 41

 

Yet another fruit of Pope Francis’ policy of giving interviews and then never giving any sort of explanation after the feathers hit the fan.  From Mahound’s Paradise:

On to the Scalfari piece. It’s an editorial reflection in La Repubblica on what the journalist wants to see happen in the Church, so it’s not a new interview, per se. But he includes a part where he describes the Pope’s thoughts on the issue. Here is the relevant passage:

[…] Whoever has had the grace to meet Pope Francis knows that the egoism of the most dangerous enemy of our species. The animal is selfish because it is only guided by his instincts, the most important thing is their own survival. Man is also driven by socializing and he therefore feels love towards the other, in addition to the survival of the species to which he belongs. If egoism wins the upper hand and the love for others is suffocated, it darkens the divine spark which is in him and condemns himself. 

What happens to these extinct souls? Will they be punished? And how? 

Francis’ answer is unambiguous and clear: There is no penalty but the annihilation of that soul. All others live on to share the the happiness in the presence of the Father. The extinguished souls have no part in this feast, with the death of the body is its end and this is the motivation of the missionary Church: to save the lost. This is also the reason why Francis is through and through, a Jesuit. […]

This theological view is called Annihilationism, by the way, and it is the view of some sincere Protestant Christians. In fairness, it has some Biblical support (though I think the weight of Biblical evidence is strongly against it.) But it has never been a teaching of the Catholic Church. Indeed, it is a clear heresy. The current Catechism of the Church states:

(1035) The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” (Matthew 25:41) The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

The Scalfari editorial came out a few days ago, in Italian of course. And as far as I can tell, it hasn’t been picked up by many of the Traditionalist blogs, let alone any mainstream sources. We picked it up from The Eponymous Flower through Pew Sitter. Once again, it is vulnerable to the criticism that there’s no proof Pope Francis actually said it. And once again, the usual suspects, many of them well-intentioned, will say that caution is urged. We should be careful when inputing heresy (at second-hand, from an atheist) to the Vicar of St. Peter. And so on and so forth, etc. etc.
Enough!
We have a bad one here guys, a real bad one. A Dig Up the Body of Your Papal Predecessor, Put His Corpse On Trial, Convict him and Then Throw It Into The Tiber, honest to goodness Bad Pope.

Continue Reading

5

Film Review: Do You Believe?

I have a unique perspective in writing this review for the movie; Do You Believe? In full disclosure, the screenwriters, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman have become friends of mine. I met them about three years back while giving a talk at Family Theater in Hollywood, the old stomping grounds of the Rosary Priest, Father Patrick Peyton.

Later they took my wife and me to dinner after they read a screenplay of mine and expressed further interest in it. At the time, they were getting into the faith based arena after years of working with likes of Sylvester Stallone among others in more action themed movies. I was very impressed with their humility and their desire to want to become better Catholics. They did the all the right things, helping those in need and going to Mass and Confession as much as possible. Needless, to say that sort of humility is in very short supply in Hollywood. They had no big projects in the works and didn’t seem bothered by it. “We just trust in the Lord, He will supply our needs,” said Cary Solomon.

Their continued hard work, despite any faith based success may have culminated in what St. John of the Cross called the Dark Night of the Soul, before their leap into faith based entertainment bared any fruit. That hunger and passion for others to see the truth is evident in their films. Then a couple of years ago they told me they were working on a film, God’s Not Dead, which came out of nowhere and was the biggest grossing independent film of 2014. They had already begun work on Do You Believe before the success of God’s Not Dead was even realized.

In Do You Believe, we have a cast of divergent characters from various ages, racial and socio-economic backgrounds facing various life changing predicaments. We are blessed to have a star studded cast, with likes of Academy Award winning actress Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite etc) and other well known stars such as Sean Astin (Rudy, Lord of the Rings etc.) and fan favorites like Cybil Shepherd, Lee Majors, Ted McGinley. In addition there are rising stars such as the rapper Shwayze, Senyou Amoaku, Madison Pettis, Valerie Dominquez and former NFL bad boy Brian Bosworth.

Ted McGinley plays an Evangelical pastor named (Matthew) who ministers to a diverse flock of in Chicago. Pastor Matthew has his world rocked when he is asked by an elderly African American street preacher (Delroy Lindo) Do You Believe in the Cross of Christ? Pastor Matthew then witnessed the elderly street preacher confront a group of street thugs who attempt to steal a van. They threaten to shoot the elderly street preacher while he tells them that Jesus died so they would live a better way. Pastor Mathew relates what he has seen to his flock. He goes on to say that they must truly live the Christian life. In proving their sincerity, Pastor Matthew and his wife take in a homeless young pregnant woman.

The flock begins to fearlessly live their Christian lives; some take the needy into their homes, while others see their jobs threatened for not watering down their Christian beliefs. All of their lives build up and cross in a dramatic crescendo late one dark and rainy night. The cast plays their part to a tee; the rapper Schwayze plays a reluctant street thug who turns from a life of crime and tries to persuade others who simply laugh and threaten him.

Lee Majors character (J.D) is a wise old sage trying to help his heartbroken wife played by Cybil Shepherd deal with the death of their grown daughter. Brian Bosworth may be the surprise of the film, playing a dying ex-con who takes in a homeless mother and daughter. The former college football and NFL bad boy may well be living out a life of redemption before our very lives.

Two of the more interesting roles are played by Sean Astin (Dr. Farell) and Andrea Logan White (Andrea.)  Moviegoers, especially those who enjoy sports themed movies will remember Astin for his role in Rudy.  The everyman’s hero for his years of being plowed into the ground daily on the Notre Dame football practice squad, only to be given a chance to suit up for a game and be carried off the field after an improbable tackle.

Astin (Dr. Farell) plays an ego maniacal doctor who gets perturbed every time he sees a patient show any signs of religious beliefs. His only solace is his power attorney, money and prestige obsessed girlfriend, Andrea (Andrea Logan White.)  They both spend what little free time they have stroking their egos and belittling the hapless religious believers they are forced to endure.

In the past faith based movies have been criticized for low budgets, poor scripts and little known actors and actresses. Obviously not the case here, as we are treated to a screenplay with many twists and turns from a star studded cast. I knew that to be the case when a sequence that included a pro-life adoption undertow was noticeable. I could see tears in my wife’s eyes as the message hit close to home for us. Continue Reading

14

Book Haul

books

 

My bride and I attended the book sale of the Normal Public Library in Normal, Illinois on Friday March 20, 2015 to feed my bibliophilia addiction.  For $50.00 my bride and I picked up quite a few books.  She got several books and magazines on crocheting, she being on a crocheting crusade for the past two years.  (I have to stay on the move in my house, lest I be covered over in afghans.)  I thought there might be some mild interest in the books I picked out, and here they are:

1.  Frontsoldaten by Stephen G. Fritz (1995)-A look at the common frontline soldiers of the Wehrmacht, and a tome that underlines this maxim of the British Army-Those who have not fought the Germans do not know war.

2.  Hard Magic (2011) and Monster Hunter Vendetta (2010) both by Larry Correia.  I have heard good things about science fiction/fantasy author Correia, but these will have been the first of his books I have read.

3.  Hitler’s Renegades by Christopher Ailsby- (2004)-An interesting look at the non-German troops who fought with the Third Reich.  The section on the Spanish Azul (Blue) division was a bit brief for my taste however.

4.  Art in the Third Reich by Berthold Hinz-(1979)-Proof positive that most art produced under the auspices of the Third Reich can be described in two words:  banal kitsch.

5.  The Ancient Near Eastern Tradition by Milton Covensky-(1966)-Part of the Major Traditions of World Civilization, one of those multi-volume looks at world history which were all the rage in the sixties.

6.  The Mughal World by Abraham Eraly-(2007)-A look at life in Mughal India by perhaps the foremost expert on that period.

7.  Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey The River of Doubt by Candice Millard-(2005)-A masterful look at the Amazonian expedition of 1913-14 that almost killed Roosevelt.

8.  History of the Byzantine Empire, vol. II, by AA Vasiliev-(1952)-I have always thought the best Byzantinists have been Russians, and perhaps the greatest of them was Vasiliev who emigrated from Russia in 1925 and who taught in the US for years.

9.  Samuel Pepys Diary by Samuel Pepys-A Random House edition of selections from the diary of Pepys.  Pepys was something of a rotter but he is never dull.  At random on a page I see three passages.  On the first he thanks God that it has been three years since he had a kidney operation to cut out a stone and that he is still free from pain. (I can empathize with his joy.)  In the next passage he listens to a preacher at church who preaches like a fool.  Finally he visits a friend, notes that his servant girl is pretty and searches her out for a kiss.

10. A History of French Literature by L. Cazamian-(1955)-A book that I trust will remedy my bone ignorance on the subject. Continue Reading

1

The Temptations of Christ-Conclusion

 

1] Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. [3] And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [4] Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God. [5] Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple,

[6] And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone. [7] Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. [8] Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, [9] And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me. [10] Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.

Matthew 4: 1-10

Go here to read part one of our Lenten examination of the temptation of Christ by Satan, here to read part two, here to read part three and here to read part four.  Satan had now issued his final temptation to Christ, all Earthly, power and waited for a reply.

As Mohammed demonstrated five centuries later, a religion that establishes secular rule over a kingdom at the inception of the religion can spread very fast and very far.  Reestablish the Davidic kingdom under Christ and Christianity might have spread just as rapidly, especially if Christ called upon the ten legions of angels he referred to at the beginning of His Passion.  Instead of just teaching, the Way taught by Christ would become the laws of the Earthly kingdom He would establish.  His mercy and justice would become statutes, and not just teachings passed slowly by word of mouth and in writings.  His mission could be accomplished without the pain and ignominy of the death on the Cross, a death Jesus would pray that he might not experience.  A throne or the Cross, in terms of His human nature this may have been the most compelling temptation.  Christ would be depicted throughout Christian history as Christ the King.  Why not be a King while He lived? What good He could accomplish here on Earth, ushering mankind into a utopia under His all wise rule.

It is instructive to recall that throughout his forthcoming three year ministry, everyone except Christ expected him to do this.  Certainly the Apostles did, constantly asking Him when the Kingdom would begin and arguing among themselves for positions of power in this new polity.  The Sadducees did, viewing His entrance into Palm Sunday as setting the stage for His revolt, and their fears that His attempt, or the attempt of His followers, to crown him as King, would lead to war with Rome.  As for the Romans, Christ died on a Roman Cross under a sign accusing him of being, or pretending to be, the King of the Jews.  Everyone seemed to expect that Christ would attempt to be a King here on Earth.  Why not fulfill these expectations? Continue Reading

42

Pope Francis and the Death Penalty

Pope and Friend

 

Pope Francis this week delivered anti-death penalty sentiments that are not only in direct opposition to the traditional teaching of the Church, that would be the teaching until 1995, but also opposed to the current teaching of the Church.  From another pontiff this would be headline news, but from this Pope it is not even surprising.  Steve Skojec at One Peter Five explains just how out of tune with the teaching of the Church these statements of the Pope are:

The ongoing debates about the authentic Catholic position on the death penalty have grown particularly exasperating. Perhaps the worst thing of all is that we’re wasting time arguing over teaching that is incredibly well-established throughout the majority of Church history. The Church’s stance on capital punishment has always been more than merely permissive; the idea that “rendering harmless” those criminals deserving of capital punishment is sufficient to eradicate the need for such a sentence is simply not consistent with the teachings of Holy Scripture, the understanding of popes, doctors of the Church, and various apostolic pronouncements.

Adding fuel to the fire, today we have a report from the Vatican’s own news service indicating that Pope Francis has attempted to proclaim that there is no circumstance whatsoever in which the death penalty is warranted:

Capital punishment is cruel, inhuman and an offense to the dignity of human life. There is no crime in the world that deserves the death penalty. That was Pope Francis’ unequivocal message to members of the International Commission against the death penalty who met with him on Friday morning in the Vatican.

In a lengthy letter written in Spanish and addressed to the president of the International Commission against the death penalty, Pope Francis thanks those who work tirelessly for a universal moratorium, with the goal of abolishing the use of capital punishment in countries right across the globe.

Pope Francis makes clear that justice can never be done by killing another human being and he stresses there can be no humane way of carrying out a death sentence. For Christians, he says, all life is sacred because every one of us is created by God, who does not want to punish one murder with another, but rather wishes to see the murderer repent. Even murderers, he went on, do not lose their human dignity and God himself is the guarantor.

Capital punishment, Pope Francis says, is the opposite of divine mercy, which should be the model for our man-made legal systems. Death sentences, he insists, imply cruel and degrading treatment, as well as the torturous anguish of a lengthy waiting period before the execution, which often leads to sickness or insanity.

This is why I use the word “attempted” in describing the pope’s desire to eradicate capital punishment: because he lacks the authority to make such a change. Shocking, I know, but I said it before and I’ll repeat it again: the teaching on this matter is settled. In order to advance this position, Pope Francis would have to declare several of his predecessors as well as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Thomas More (who prosecuted heretics in an England where that was a capital offense), a papal decree, an apostolic constitution, and also St. Paul’s own divinely-inspired writing in the New Testament to be in error.

Don’t believe me? Read for yourself. We’ll start with the New Testament:

  • “If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death.” (Acts 25:11)
  • “Let every soul be subject to higher powers. For there is no power but from God: and those that are ordained of God. Therefore, he that resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God. And they that resist purchase to themselves damnation. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good: and thou shalt have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to thee, for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is God’s minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil” (Romans 13:1-4).

We may also examine papal and magisterial pronouncements:

  • “It must be remembered that power was granted by God [to the magistrates], and to avenge crime by the sword was permitted. He who carries out this vengeance is God’s minister (Rm 13:1-4). Why should we condemn a practice that all hold to be permitted by God? We uphold, therefore, what has been observed until now, in order not to alter the discipline and so that we may not appear to act contrary to God’s authority.” (Pope Innocent 1, Epist. 6, C. 3. 8, ad Exsuperium, Episcopum Tolosanum, 20 February 405, PL 20,495)
  • Condemned as an error: “That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.” – Pope Leo X, Exsurge Domine (1520)
  • “The power of life and death is permitted to certain civil magistrates because theirs is the responsibility under law to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Far from being guilty of breaking this commandment [Thy shall not kill], such an execution of justice is precisely an act of obedience to it. For the purpose of the law is to protect and foster human life. This purpose is fulfilled when the legitimate authority of the State is exercised by taking the guilty lives of those who have taken innocent lives. In the Psalms we find a vindication of this right: “Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all evildoers from the city of the Lord” (Ps. 101:8). (Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566, Part III, 5, n. 4)
  • “Even in the case of the death penalty the State does not dispose of the individual’s right to life. Rather public authority limits itself to depriving the offender of the good of life in expiation for his guilt, after he, through his crime, deprived himself of his own right to life.” (Pope Pius XII, Address to the First International Congress of Histopathology of the Nervous System, 14 September 1952, XIV, 328)
And finally, some teachings from the doctors of the Church:
  • “The same divine authority that forbids the killing of a human being establishes certain exceptions, as when God authorizes killing by a general law or when He gives an explicit commission to an individual for a limited time. The agent who executes the killing does not commit homicide; he is an instrument as is the sword with which he cuts. Therefore, it is in no way contrary to the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to wage war at God’s bidding, or for the representatives of public authority to put criminals to death, according to the law, that is, the will of the most just reason.” – (St. Augustine, The City of God, Book 1, chapter 21)
  • It is written: “Wizards thou shalt not suffer to live” (Ex. 22:18); and: “In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land” (Ps. 100:8). …Every part is directed to the whole, as imperfect to perfect, wherefore every part exists naturally for the sake of the whole. For this reason we see that if the health of the whole human body demands the excision of a member, because it became putrid or infectious to the other members, it would be both praiseworthy and healthful to have it cut away. Now every individual person is related to the entire society as a part to the whole. Therefore if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and healthful that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good, since “a little leaven corrupteth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). – (St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, II, II, q. 64, art. 2)
  • In Iota Unum, Romano Amerio cites St. Thomas on the expiatory nature of accepting a death sentence:
     

    “Even death inflicted as a punishment for crimes takes away the whole punishment for those crimes in the next life, or at least part of that punishment, according to the quantities of guilt, resignation, and contrition; but a natural death does not.” (Cf. Romano Amerio Iota Unum, 435)

In his apostolic constitution, Horrendum illud scelus, Pope St. Pius V even decreed that actively homosexual clerics were to be stripped of their office and handed over to the civil authorities, who at that time held sodomy as a capital offense. He wrote: “We determine that clerics guilty of this execrable crime are to be quite gravely punished, so that whoever does not abhor the ruination of the soul, the avenging secular sword of civil laws will certainly deter.”

These are, to borrow words from the New Testament, “hard sayings.” But as Catholics, we are obligated to wrestle with these teachings – especially the ones we don’t understand or find ourselves interiorly opposed to. Taking it upon ourselves to condemn what we disagree with is to challenge the authority and doctrinal orthodoxy of those who proclaimed them true in the first place. The burden is on us to prove, if we really believe it, why some prior teaching was wrong – and how to reconcile that with infallibility and authentic doctrinal development.

The above citations alone should be sufficient to prove that the death penalty was traditionally viewed by the Church as more than just morally permissible in certain circumstances. It seems clear that the traditional view was that, when carried out justly, the execution of criminals deserving of such penalties by the legitimate authority of the state actually served the common good and even had the power to expiate temporal punishment on the part of the guilty. This is something that more recent papal statements — like those found in Evangelium Vitae — fail to address. (More on that in a minute.)

No less contemporary an ecclesiastical authority than Cardinal Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict, admitted at the very least that Catholics had room to disagree on this issue. He stated, as pertains to the question of capital punishment and the worthiness of an individual who supports it to receive Holy Communion:

Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

As a student of Church history, it’s no surprise that Ratzinger clarified this. We see why in an article published by Dr. Steven Long, professor of theology at Ave Maria University, on the website Thomistica (run by the Aquinas Center of Ave Maria). In the piece — which specifically addresses the recent joint statement in favor of abolition of the death penalty by four ostensibly Catholic journals — Long demonstrates that acceptance of the right of the state to levy this penalty was a requirement for the restoration of the heretical Waldensians to full communion: Continue Reading

6

PopeWatch: Papal Evenglow Lodge

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

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

 

Following comments made by Pope Francis last week stating that he felt his pontificate could possibly last no longer than two or three years, the Vatican announced today that they have opened a multi-million dollar retirement community for emeritus popes.

The news comes just days after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told EOTT that he would welcome another former pope into his residence, so long as the incoming pope did not have cat allergies.

The former pope’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, told EOTT that due to both Francis and Benedict’s insistence on getting the bottom bunk and other issues, the Vatican decided to simply open a retirement community to give incoming popes their own space.

“We hope that the new community will help accommodate what we believe will soon become an influx of retired popes,” Ganswein said. “The community will be able to hold up to ten popes, and will offer many exciting activities such as Canasta tournaments and shuffle-board. We also intend to bring in young adults from around Rome to visit and talk to some of our elderly popes.” Continue Reading

21

The Crossroads of Our Being

 

Something for the weekend.  The opening of the Civil War documentary, to the tune Ashokan Farewell, that premiered twenty-five years ago this September.  As the 150th anniversary of the Civil War draws to a close, what strikes me most is the immensity of the conflict and the huge changes it wrought in American life.  One can spend a lifetime studying this conflict as I have, and still find, almost daily, new pieces of information.  Shelby Foote, and it took a gifted novelist I think to write an epic history worthy of this huge, sprawling event in American history, put it best: Continue Reading

8

Various & Sundry, 3/20/15

– Yeah, I can’t believe I’m writing about the Mair affair again, but Leon Wolf makes the same point I did last night.

I wonder how long it will take us, as a movement, to learn from the strategic mistakes of our past. A major reason why we keep nominating moderates for the Presidency is that these kinds of attacks on viable conservative alternatives leave the moderate as the only plausible alternative standing.  While conservatives are dividing their support into increasingly narrow slices, the moderate voters unify early behind a single candidate and don’t go to pieces over one or two differences of opinion.

As Wolf says, it’s one thing to vet a candidate and not prematurely crown a favorite, but it’s another to disqualify candidates based on minor infractions.

Also, William Jacobson has another good take on the matter, writing that conservative pundits are embarrassing themselves.

But the campaign is not about Mair, it’s about larger issues of changing the course of the country in ways that Walker has accomplished in Wisconsin. Walker needs to do a better job vetting new hires that keep consistent with his message and his strategy.

Voters should vote on Walker, not his staff.

To summarize, we have a group of conservative bloggers and pundits upset that Walker fired a staffer, and then we have another group of conservative bloggers and pundits upset that Walker hired her in the first place. Then we have the remaining 97% or so of GOP voters who couldn’t care less either way. Maybe over the weekend both of these groups can grow up and start writing about issues people actually give a fig about and not some petty inside baseball stuff.

– Vatican says no to use of the 1998 ICEL translation. Fr. Z says exactly what I was thinking.

Out of curiosity, I wonder how many of those who want for the opportunity to use the 1998 version are supportive of those who want the opportunity to use the 1962Missale Romanum.

Elliot Bougis tackles the debate over the Church and the death penalty, and responds to a particularly silly post as well.

– Color me surprised: looks like the Obama administration flat-out lied to a federal judge.

A federal judge sharply scolded a Justice Department attorney at a hearing on President Obama’s immigration executive actions, suggesting that the administration misled him on a key part of the program — and that he fell for it, “like an idiot.”

He’s not the first person to utter those words  in response to the Obama administration, and he won’t be the last, I’m sure.

– This is an interesting story. A college student claims he was banned from a class because he told some uncomfortable truths about “rape culture.”

A student at Reed College has been banned from class for denying the existence of “rape culture” in the United States and arguing that the oft-repeated statistic that one in five women are raped at college is bogus.
Jeremiah True, 19, received an email from professor Pancho Savery on March 14 telling him he was making his classmates so uncomfortable that he was no longer welcome to participate in the “conference” sections of his Humanities 110 class, a course which focuses on the art and literature of classical Greece, according to BuzzFeed News.

While this got everybody’s rage meters turned up to seven, I wondered if there might be more to the story. Well, there is. The teacher in question was contacted by Reason, and the teacher claims that the student was barred because “of a series of disruptive behaviors.” Then when the student in question was contacted, well, this was his reply.

Before I interview with you, you must agree to make “[the n-word]” be the first word in your article.

Umm, yeah.

Now, Savery’s reply was vague enough that it could still be the case that True was kicked out for nothing more than hurting people’s feelings, and True may merely have been testing the reporter who contacted him. That being said, whenever a story seems a little fishy, do a little digging first before freaking out.

– Another interesting story. Two kids in Philadelphia were late getting to the bus stop and so missed their bus. They walked home to find that their mother already left for work, and so they were locked out. A cop saw the kids, discovered what had happened, and after checking with his supervisor, brought the kids to school.

Great community policing? You might think, but evidently not if you are those kids’ mother.

But the problem, the girls mother never knew what happened until a neighbor called her to say she saw her daughters drive away with police.

“I started crying. I broke down and i got here and I was hysterical”

 

“I don’t want them not to trust the police but they need to be aware they need to let their mother know. They need to let them say call my mom before they get in to say “call my mom,” she said.

I can understand the mother’s initial fear and even anger, but I have a hard time faulting the police in any way for anything they did in this situation.

– One day the Onion will be no more because reality is rapidly becoming more absurd than satire. A gun control group opened a fake gun store to guilt-trip people who wanted to buy guns. I agree with this take:

I like this clip as a microcosm of the gun-control movement in that it’s concerned chiefly with moral self-congratulation. You think anyone coming into the shop hadn’t heard of Sandy Hook or kids accidentally shooting family members with their parents’ guns before the schmuck behind the counter told them? This is a shaming exercise, pure and simple. And just to ensure that the appropriate amount of shame was expressed, if not actually felt, the producers exposed the ruse to the customers afterward and then stuck a camera in their faces to ask them if they’d reconsidered their purchase. Go figure that people who live in a very liberal, very anti-gun city, faced with the prospect of appearing in a viral vid that shows them trying to buy the SAME TYPE OF GUN ADAM LANZA USED, BRO, chose to express contrition when confronted.

Indeed.

18

Selling Out to Caesar

Caesar Coin

 

 

The Catholic Church in this country has historically been in bed with the Democrat party.  Ironically, while many “Catholics” these days never darken the inside of a church except on very rare occasions, these same “Catholics” often retain an allegiance to the Democrat party as the sole living vestige of their ancestral Catholicism. John Zmirak explains at The Stream how this alliance between the Catholic Church and the Democrat Party has produced poisonous results today as the Democrat party mandates that the Church adopt anti-Catholic stances or be driven from the Public Square:

 

But how did they dig themselves into such a hole in the first place? How will they, inevitably, dig the next such hole and then the hole after that? I have analyzed both issues, and come up with an eight-step process for destroying a church’s witness.

  1. Distort your church’s doctrine, by pretending that it clearly supports just one side and one solution in a complex political issue that balances the interests and rights of millions of citizens. Instead, side unconditionally and unthinkingly with . . .
  2. A particular “victim” group that includes millions of voters, potential church members, or potential clients that can serve as magnets for federal money. Insist that the government help this group by . . .
  3. Growing the government and taxing the middle class, while also . . .
  4. Directing federal funds to church agencies or institutions. Now instead of performing the “corporal works of mercy” as Christians, they are simply working for pay as federal contractors. This has the added benefit that it will . . .
  5. Make the churches partly dependent on the whims of the federal government, whose bureaucrats and leaders are firmly opposed to Christian moral teachings on the sanctity of life and of marriage. Soon these secular leftists will . . .
  6. Impose laws and regulations that would force the church to abandon core moral principles. At this point church leaders will . . .
  7. Whimper, and flail around, pretending that the First Amendment protects their right to spend federal money however they wish, regardless of the federal government’s preferences. After this, look for . . .
  8. One of three results:

a) Church officials and agencies cave completely, and do not even pretend to put up resistance. This happened when the Obama administration decreed that Catholic agencies receiving federal money had to hire gay and “transgender” employees.

b) Church officials and agencies find a loophole through which they can fulfill the letter of church law, while flouting its spirit — for instance, through the HHS “compromise” accepted by the Catholic Health Association, which created a formal “buffer” between Catholic employers and the abortifacients they were effectively paying for.

c) The Church stands up prophetically against the real evils (#6 above) that would be required to obtain federal money (#4 above), and renounces the distortions of doctrine (#1 above) that dug them this hole in the first place.

I wish I had a news link to illustrate option 8c in action. Continue Reading

11

PopeWatch: Orthodox Talk

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Sandro Magister looks at the intriguing fact that many of the statements of Pope Francis are quite orthodox, even as his Papacy seems to be putting in motion forces that are anything but:

 

VATICAN CITY, March 17, 2015 – Among the many things that Pope Francis says there are some that almost never make the front page of the newspaper. And if they do they are almost immediately swept away by other headlines of an opposing and compelling nature.

This is what happens every time he speaks as “a son of the Church” – as he loves to call himself – and as a faithful witness of tradition on questions like contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexual marriage, “gender” ideology, euthanasia.

On these questions Pope Francis is anything but silent. And when he talks about them, which is much more often than one might think, he does not budge an inch from what was said before him by Paul VI, John Paul II, or Benedict XVI.

And yet in dominant opinion, both secular and Catholic, this pope passes as an innovator who changes paradigms and breaks with the dogmas of the past, also and above all on questions of life and death that were the cross of his predecessors.

Further below is presented in chronological order an anthology of the statements of pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio on the questions indicated above, from the end of last October’s synod until today.

There are twenty-one statements in less than five months. Some of them highly polemical with the “spirit of the time.” All of them perfectly in line with the traditional doctrine of the Church. The latest also throws quite a damper on the expectations for change in the area of marriage, expectations Pope Francis has called “desmesuradas,” disproportionate.

The novelty of this pontificate is that along with these reaffirmations of perennial doctrine it also gives free rein to doctrines and pastoral practices of a different and sometimes opposite nature.

Another novelty that is no less are important is that this discord of voices is produced from within the Catholic hierarchy itself and even from other words of the pope himself that are taken up as emblems of change, starting with that “Who am I to judge” that has gone on to become the universally identifying mark of this pontificate.

It thus happens that so influential a cardinal as Reinhard Marx should say calmly at a recent press conference, in the name of the German Church and with regard to communion for the divorced and remarried:

“We are not a subsidiary of Rome. Every episcopal conference is responsible for pastoral care within its own sphere. We cannot wait for a synod to tell us how we should act here in marriage and the family.”

It thus happens that an archbishop like the Italian Giuseppe Casale should arrive at admitting abortion, as he did in an interview with “Il Regno” on the reform of the Church “according to the guidelines of Pope Francis”:

“For the beginning of life we must determine when there is human life, the person, without resting on preconceived positions, because science could open new perspectives for us.”

It happens that the paradigm shift of the Church’s view on homosexuality is already largely accomplished and cast in a positive light, seeing the unprecedented numbers of homosexual churchmen who occupy important positions in the curia and are in close contact with the pope.

It is partly for this reason that the following statements of Francis are so striking, all of them being so “traditional.”

It is here that the enigma of this pontificate lies. As Fr. Federico Lombardi described it in the Jesuit magazine “Popoli”:

“That of Francis is not an organic alternative plan, it is rather the setting in motion of such a complex reality as the Church is. It is a Church on a journey. He does not impose his vision and his way of doing things. He asks for and listens to different. Continue Reading

9

Various & Sundry, 3/19/15

– More fallout from the incredible controversy of Walker firing a staffer. Or that staffer resigning. Or whatever. William Jacobson has a sensible take. Of course what this whole thing shows me is that the right is going to sabotage another election, disqualifying good candidates for minor infractions, and thus enabling someone like Jeb Bush to walk off with the nomination. Then bloggers like Ace of Spades will write 3,000 word rants about how evil the Republican establishment is, without of course conceding that they enabled the very nomination that they so decried.

– Yeah, Harry Reid is a real piece of, umm, work.

Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas) has offered a bill that would use fines levied on convicted human traffickers to fund services for victims of human trafficking — for liberated slaves. And his bill would do more than that: It would fund task forces and investigative units dedicated to breaking up trafficking rings. The bill contains language that is horrible to contemplate in the 21st century: “trafficking with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, or forced labor.”

Who could be against such a bill? Senator Harry Reid, for one. The Nevada Democrat and Senate minority leader boasts of his pro-life record, and advertises the many occasions upon which he has voted against government funding of abortions. In the United States, the public funding of abortion is generally prohibited through “Hyde amendments,” commonplace statutory language that goes back to the earliest post-Roe days that ensures, out of a decent respect for the consciences of individual Americans, that none of them is forced by the government to participate financially in abortion. Senator Cornyn’s bill contains such a provision, and Democrats are pretending to be surprised by that. The truth is that they are taking a beating in their new minority status, while their national leadership is embroiled in a series of scandals and failures. A fight over abortion, they calculate, might be just the thing — and there’s always the chance that Republicans will help them out by having an obscure backbencher from nowhere proffer an innovative theory about reproductive biology.

– Obama hints at seeking to make voting mandatory. Because what we need are more uninformed voters deciding the fate of our country.

Obama floated the idea of mandatory voting in the U.S. while speaking to a civic group in Cleveland on Wednesday. Asked about the influence of money in U.S. elections, Obama digressed into the topic of voting rights and said the U.S. should be making it easier for people to vote.

Just ask Australia, where citizens have no choice but to vote, the president said.

“If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country,” Obama said, calling it “potentially transformative.” Not only that, Obama said, but universal voting would “counteract money more than anything.”

Oh, and shocker of shockers, he’s full of, umm, bile.

Disproportionately, Americans who skip the polls on Election Day are younger, lower-income and more likely to be immigrants or minorities, Obama said. “There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls,” he said in a veiled reference to voter identification laws in a number of states.

First of all, voter id laws, contrary to the scare-mongering of the deranged left, are not about disenfranchising legally eligible voters. Democrats know this, but they have to keep lying because lying is all they have left. Secondly, couldn’t it be reasonably inferred that efforts to make voting “mandatory” are politically motivated attempts to influence election outcomes? Nah, only Republicans and conservatives engage in that sort of thing.

– Speaking of The One, he’s now going to punish the people of Israel for defying him. Which I guess is consistent for a man with a Messiah complex.

While saying it was “premature” to discuss Washington’s policy response, the [Obama administration] official wouldn’t rule out a modified American posture at the United Nations, where the U.S. has long fended off resolutions critical of Israeli settlement activity and demanding its withdrawal from Palestinian territories. “We are signaling that if the Israeli government’s position is no longer to pursue a Palestinian state, we’re going to have to broaden the spectrum of options we pursue going forward,” the official said.

Well, when you’ve defied the will of a petulant, egotistical brat, I suppose you’ve asked for it.

Joy Pullmann looks at the fertility industry’s lack of oversight. I love this paragraph:

Lastly: How freakin’ many “third-rail” issues are there? Last I heard, that phrase applied to Social Security. Now it apparently applies to abortion, contraception, producing humans like so many cars, the national budget, military bloat, entitlements, ending marriage, you name it. Isn’t that practically everything our government is involved in nowadays? How can anyone govern if they can’t discuss what they’re doing!

– Now this is some really important analysis: does diving to first actually get you there faster? Answer: kind of.

They key to maintaining the advantage is technique. According to Rivas, “The average velocity reached by the runner in the last long step is 9.5 m/s. The average velocity of first .6 meter of sliding is 6.2 m/s, and the average velocity of full body sliding was 5.2 m/s.” Since the diver had a .81m headstart at the end of his dive (25.6 inches), it should take much more than a meter (three feet) of sliding for the runner to overtake the diver.

In other words, if the runner/diver has absolutely perfect technique, he has a fraction of a second advantage over the guy who runs through the bag. Considering that this analysis doesn’t weigh the injury risks of diving over running, my suggestion would be that the traditional view – that a runner ought to keep running – should prevail.

6

PopeWatch: Limited Mercy

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Austin Ruse has an interesting post at Brietbart:

 

In early January, Valladares, who spent 22 years in Castro’s prisons and went on to write a highly influential book about it, says the recent opening to Cuba by the West is part of an “Obama-Francis axis” that he calls a “spiritual-political axis which… will now provide the repressive apparatus of the Cuban regime with rivers of money and favorable publicity.”

He says Pope Francis and President Obama are merely replacing the Soviet Union, then Venezuela, and finally Brazil as Castro’s financial enablers.

Two days after the simultaneous December 19th announcement by Rome, Washington, and Havana of the diplomatic rapprochement, Valladares reported a Cuban Coast Guard boat “began ramming a boat fleeing Cuba with 32 people on board, including seven women and two children, to sink the frail craft.” Valladares called it “a brutal action by a regime that feels back up by powerful allies. A criminal event so seriously damning for the Castro regime would deserve a worldwide outcry of repudiation but was hardly noticed…”

He said the event wasn’t even notice by “churchmen who should imitate the Good Shepard by being ready to give their lives for their sheep.”

Valladares, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission under Presidents Reagan and Bush, charges that the “most serious and tragic aspect of this agreement” between the US and Cuba, “falls upon Pope Francis, its most eminent architect and mediator.”

But, he says, “This is not the first time that Francis takes measures that objectively favor the political and ecclesiastical left in Latin America… For example, he personally attended the World Meeting of Popular Movements held in Rome from October 27 to 29. It gathered 100 revolutionary world leaders, including well-known Latin American professional agitators.” Valladeres called the meeting a kind of “beatification of these Marxist-inspired revolutionary figures…”

Valladares also points to Francis’s overturning the suspension of the Nicaraguan priest Miquel D’Escoto who had been the Foreign Minister of the revolutionary Sandanista regime, “a leading pro-Castro figure in liberation theology.”

Where Valladares might be described as a man of the right, a man of the farthest left sees the same thing in Francis and approves.

Richard Greeman, a writer for the Marxist website New Politics, wonders if “Catholicism is the new communism.” He describes his years, after the Second Vatican Council, working in Latin America, participating in the rise of “liberation theology.” He says, “Liberation theology Catholics were consistently more revolutionary than Leftists of all stripes.” Continue Reading

1

March 19, 1865: Battle of Bentonville Begins

 

The life of the Confederacy was ebbing fast, but it still had soldiers willing to fight for it, as was amply demonstrated at the battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, fought March 19-21, 1865.

Outnumbered 60,000 to 21,000, General Joseph Johnston’s only hope of victory was to attack a portion of Sherman’s army and defeat it.  Moving on Goldsboro, Sherman had his army marching in two groups, a left wing under Major General Henry Slocum and a right wing under Major General O. O. Howard.  On March 19, 1865, Slocum ran into the entrenched troops of Johnston.  Thinking that he was opposed only by cavalry, Slocum attacked and was repulsed.  In the afternoon Johnston attacked and was initially successful, routing two Union divisions.  The fighting continued until midnight, with Union reinforcements stopping the Confederate attack, and the Confederates withdrawing to their lines.

On March 20, Howard joined Slocum and only light skirmishing occurred.

On March 21, Sherman stopped an attack which, in retrospect, he regretted stopping, since it might well have led to a general action which may have ended in the destruction of Johnston’s force.

Johnston had been lucky and the Confederates had fought skillfully, but the results of the battle demonstrated the futility of fighting against a force that was so numerically superior.  Johnston lost 2600 men, almost ten percent of his force, while Sherman had 1604 casualties which diminished his force almost not at all.

One of the Confederate casualties underlined the endless tragedies of the War.  On the 21rst Willie Hardee, the 16 year old son of Confederate Lieutenant General William Hardee, was mortally wounded.  His father had reluctantly agreed a few hours before his wounding to his son serving with the elite Eighth Texas Cavalry, known popularly as Terry’s Texas Rangers, his son desperate to see action before the end of the War.  Willie’s death was mourned by General O.O. Howard who commanded Sherman’s right wing and who had been a friend of Hardee at West Point and who had tutored Willie.

Here are Sherman’s comments on the battle in his memoirs: Continue Reading

18

The Church Militant

 

 My children, we are here to conquer or die. In death or in victory, you will win immortality.

Don Juan of Austria to his sailors and troops prior to the battle of Lepanto

 

 

One of the more distressing aspects of contemporary Catholicism is the transformation from the Church Militant to the Church Mushy.  Catholicism did not survive for twenty tumultuous centuries by being a religion for lukewarm cowards.  Father Z explains what the Church Militant is for the benefit of poorly educated, in the Faith, Catholics who probably comprise a majority of the members of the Church these days:

paper-bag-200x300

I post this because our dear Michael Sean Winters had a little nutty about my use of this term over at the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter).

All of you Catholics who are reading this, even if you mostly identify with the dissenters at the Fishwrap, are members of the Church Militant, the Ecclesia Militans.

“Militant” is a scary word for libs (keep that paper bag handy) because it looks like the English word “military” (which must be a bad thing to belong to).

Militant comes from Latin milito, “to be a soldier, to perform military service”.  Note, “service”.

As a Catholic who is militans, “militant”, that means that we dedicate ourselves with obedience and zeal to the role we are given in life through our calling and through our talents and good inclinations, our vocations in life.  It means that we are also prepared to fight the enemy wherever and whenever threats to the salvation of our own souls and our neighbor’s souls present themselves.  It means working together as units and not as individuals merely.   It means good conditioning and through drills in knowing well our Catholic Faith and practicing virtues and discipline in the use of the Sacraments.  It means submission to the Church’s teaching authority and her duly ordaining pastors.  It means fidelity, loyalty and even a willingness to die.

I now urge the Fishwrap types to have at hand a paper bag they can breathe into.

The Church Militant is made up of the living, we who are still on pilgrimage through this vale of tears, as the Salve Regina describes our earthly life.  The whole Church can be described as having three main kinds of membership, namely, those who are still alive here on Earth, those who are in an earthly sense dead but who live in Heaven (the Church Triumphant) and those who have died but who are, during their time of purification in Purgatory, awaiting their entrance into Heaven (the Church Suffering or Penitent).  These three are united, in one Holy Church, in a common “communion of saints”, even though we of the Church Militant often aren’t very saintly.

Church Militant is a common and traditional way to describe the living members of the Church.  For example, find it used as a hinge pin in the Catholic Encyclopedia.  Even though the Catechism of the Catholic Church 954 doesn’t explicitly use the terms Militant, Suffering and Triumphant, the concepts are clearly there when it describes the membership of the Church:

The three states of the Church. “When the Lord comes in glory, and all his angels with him, death will be no more and all things will be subject to him. But at the present time some of his disciples are pilgrims on earth. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating ‘in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as he is”‘

That paragraph in the CCC quotes Lumen gentium 49; Mt 25:31 (which describes the separation of the blessed from the damned); 1 Cor 15:26-27 (which describes the ultimate triumph of God at the end of things); and the Council of Florence (1439) in DS 1305.  I will add that LG 43, on religious institutes, uses the phrase “militia Christi” to describe the support given by religious families to Church.

The old Catechism of St. Pius X uses the tripartite division, describing the Church Militant as the Church to which we actually belong.  Of course, you have to know that “actually” means “now”, and not loose English “really”.

In the Baltimore Catechism, in its explanation of the articles of the Creed, we find a great description

“The communion of saints:”

There are three parts in the Church. We have, first, the Church Militant, i.e., the fighting Church, made up of all the faithful upon earth, who are still fighting for their salvation. [The catholic Left, the Fishwrap types, are going to hate that description because of the implication that not everyone is saved (except for those meanies who don’t want to redistribute wealth or approve of sex with just about any carbon-based life form] The Holy Scripture tells us our life upon earth is a warfare. [Get that bag if you need it!  Then check 1 Tim 6:12: “Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  Then check 2 Cor 10: 3-5: “For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”  Yes.  We have enemies.] We have three enemies to fight. First, the devil, who by every means wishes to keep us out of Heaven-the place he once enjoyed himself The devil knows well the happiness of Heaven, and does not wish us to have what he cannot have himself; just as you sometimes see persons who, through their own fault, have lost their situation trying to keep others out of it. [The devil has earthly agents, even within the Church.  Think of, for example, the horrid example of priests who harm children and also writers in the catholic media who consistently deceive souls and undermine the faith and good discipline of the Church by promoting dissent.]

Our second enemy is the world. This does not mean the earth with all its beauty and riches, but the bad people in the world with their false doctrines; [See above.] some telling us there is no God, Heaven, or Hell, others that we should pay no attention to the teaching of the Church or the laws of God, and advising us by word and example to resist our lawful superiors in Church or State and give free indulgence to our sinful passions. [I have the impression that the catholic Left’s agenda is mainly focused on sex. When they perceive that something is a threat to their own desires, they attack it.  Of course they will attack any traditional expression of the Faith, because worship and doctrine are inextricably intertwined.]

The third enemy is our own flesh. [See above] By this we mean our concupiscence, that is, our passions, evil inclinations, and propensity to do wrong. When God first created man, the soul was always master over the body, and the body obedient to the soul. After Adam sinned, the body rebelled against the soul and tried to lead it into sin. The body is the part of our nature that makes us like the brute animals, while the soul makes us like to God and the angels.

When we sin, it is generally to satisfy the body craving for what it has not, or for that which is forbidden. Why did God leave this concupiscence in us? He left it, first, to keep us humble, by reminding us of our former sins, and, secondly, that we might overcome it and have a reward for the victory. [Yes, its a war and, as Christians, we are soldiers on the march.]

The Devil is not a myth, friends, and Hell is real. Continue Reading

12

Various & Sundry, 3/18/15

– So I guess today’s controversy is Scott Walker firing (or accepting the “resignation”) of his online outreach director after an outcry was made against her hiring due to some harsh things she said about Iowa. Because you simply cannot say anything critical about Iowa, that wonderful Republican bellwether that has correctly picked the Republican nominee twice in thirty years and has voted for the ultimate GOP nominee in the general election once during that same time.

Here’s Drew M at Ace of Spades saying, “Eh, no big deal.” Here’s Ace himself going to eleven on the freakout-o-meter. Personally I just don’t care much either way, though I slightly lean towards the Drew M position. That being said, my main takeaway from all this: just stay away from twitter. Nothing good comes from twitter.

– Let’s step in the wayback machine to a time when adults were welcome in the Democrat party. George Will memorializes Daniel Patrick Moynihan and his accurate assessment that the breakdown of the family would exacerbate economic woes, especially for minorities. Moynihan was pilloried for his views, so it’s refreshing to see that absolutely nothing has changed in our political discourse in half a century.

Fifty years ago this month, Moynihan, then a 37-year-old social scientist working in the Labor Department, wrote a report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” that was leaked in July. The crisis he discerned was that 23.6 percent of African-American births were to unmarried women. Among the “tangle” of pathologies he associated with the absence of fathers was a continually renewed cohort of inadequately socialized adolescent males. This meant dangerous neighborhoods and schools where disciplining displaced teaching. He would later write: “A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority . . . that community asks for and gets chaos.”
Academic sensitivity enforcers and race-mongers denounced him as a racist who was “blaming the victim.” Today, 72 percent of African-American children are born to single women, 48 percent of first births of all races and ethnicities are to unmarried women, and more than 3 million mothers under 30 are not living with the fathers of their children.

Ben Carson may need to sit down and do some studying if he wants to take this whole presidential run seriously.

Neurosurgeon and prospective Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson stumbled on key foreign policy questions during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday, appearing to not realize the Baltic States are members of NATO and dating the founding of Islam to well before the birth of Christ.

In fairness, reading through the interview online Carson doesn’t necessarily state that Islam predates Christ, but that the tension in the region does. That being said, I continue to find his entire candidacy quixotic. Conservatives have – rightly – spent the better part of almost decade decrying the cult of personality surrounding Barack Obama, and yet there’s a fairly solid base of support for someone whose main accomplishment in the political arena is delivering one single speech that people liked. In a field that will feature a half-dozen accomplished governors plus a few more serious candidates with varying degrees of accomplishment, what exactly is Carson’s appeal?

– Funny video: how to become gluten intolerant.

I feel sorry for people who have celiac disease and who probably get a roll of the eyes whenever they request gluten free food. Unfortunately there is now a cottage industry of people who don’t even know what gluten is demanding that anything they consume must absolutely not contain the stuff.

– I’ve been lifting weights and getting into strength training. If this thread indicates what happens to the brains of people who lift weights, I might be done.

10

Words to Live By

 

 

One of many reasons for our current problems in this country is that many of the schools, both public and religious, are a mess.  Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco is trying to change this.  His efforts are being met with all the venom that the secular and Catholic left are famed for.  He has not buckled.  Here is his letter to the teachers:

 

Thank you for the work you do to help our young students learn, mature, and grow in the Catholic faith. Know of my gratitude for the energy, expertise and devotion that you bring to this wonderful and most critical enterprise.

This enterprise involves a two-fold endeavor, since, for a Catholic high school to attain excellence, it must be at one and the same time an excellent institution of secondary education and a truly Catholic institution. Changes in our secular society over the last few decades have brought new challenges to this endeavor in both senses, as we now face both increased difficulties in educating our students well in an array of academic subjects, and unprecedented challenges in forming our young people with a deep and strong Catholic identity as well as a knowledge and practice of the Catholic faith.

The Second Vatican Council, in its declaration on Catholic education Gravissimum Educationis, insisted on Catholic schools assisting Catholic parents in their primary duty of educating their children in virtue, holiness, and their ability to evangelize others in society (see especially nn. 3 and 8). Picking up on this theme, the U.S. bishops have affirmed that “Catholic elementary and secondary schools [are] invaluable instruments in proclaiming the Good News from one generation to the next” (see Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium, US Conference of Catholic Bishops [2005], p. 2).

As one means of fulfilling this most serious responsibility, all of our schools currently have programs to help teachers give more effective witness to the Catholic faith. I support these programs. However, I also see a need to provide more clarity for our teachers. For this reason, I have developed a document that clarifies Catholic issues in our Catholic schools. At the outset, though, I wish to state clearly and emphatically that the intention underlying this document is not to target for dismissal from our schools any teachers, singly or collectively, nor does it introduce anything essentially new into the contract or the faculty handbook.

Many Catholics are at Variance with Church Teaching

At the same time, we need to face the current reality in society and the Church honestly, seriously and frankly: many people have opinions directly contrary to the natural moral law and the teaching of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, many Catholics themselves have beliefs at variance with Church teaching. This is simply a reality of our modern society. This reality stems in great part from the tremendous pressure the contemporary culture places on everyone to conform to a certain agenda at variance with, and often aggressively so, our Christian understanding of the human person and God’s purpose in creation. This pressure is exerted relentlessly in the media, in entertainment, in politics, in academia, in corporations – in short, in all of the influencers of popular culture. This problem in society in general is already serious enough, but when people in Catholic institutions endorse such views it creates a toxic confusion about our fundamental values among both students and others in society at large. As teaching institutions, therefore, Catholic schools have to be very clear about what constitutes the true teachings of the Catholic Church. They owe that to the teachers, to the students, and to the parents of the students.

Confusion on Sexual Morality and Religious Discpline

Confusion about the Church’s stance is prevalent in areas of sexual morality and religious discipline. For this reason, the statements for inclusion in the faculty handbook focus on these two areas. This focus does not imply lesser importance to Catholic teachings on social justice, which in fact are widely accepted and well interpreted in Catholic educational institutions. The areas requiring clarification are in Catholic teachings on sexual morality and religious practice.

Having clear statements especially about “hot button issues” related to faith and morals is important to teachers for two reasons. The first is that a forthright statement of the Church’s position on these issues helps teachers provide good perspectives to their students who often struggle in these areas.

The second reason is that candid formulation of Church doctrine protects those teachers who don’t agree with the statements. That sounds counterintuitive, but it is indeed the case. In a society in which confusion reigns about Church teachings, highlighting the controversial issues alerts teachers to avoid contradicting Church teaching on these issues either in the school or in some public way outside the classroom.

Dissenting from Catholic Teaching does not Promote Holiness

All teachers are expected to contribute to an atmosphere of holiness, virtue, and familiarity with the Gospel. How can this occur if not all teachers agree with Catholic teachings?
The way to assist teachers who distance themselves or privately oppose some Catholic teachings is to alert them to sensitive issues. Because the school fosters holiness, virtue and evangelization, teachers not knowledgeable about the precise contours of Catholic teaching have to be cautious about what they say in the school and what they do in the public sphere outside the Catholic school. Honest mistakes do happen, and when they do, reparation can be made. This is not in and of itself a cause for a teacher to be punished. At the same time, teachers and staff at Catholic high schools have to strive to present Catholic teachings as consistently as possible. Dissenting from Catholic teaching or the natural moral law in a Catholic high school does not promote holiness, virtue and evangelization.

Finally, it is important to note the careful use of language in the document. In front of many statements of Catholic teaching in the faculty handbook come the words “affirm and believe.” This is a statement made on behalf of the institution, not all individuals in the institutions. Our Catholic high schools try to hire people who do believe what the Church teaches, but in our schools we have good teachers who belong to other Christian faiths or to no faith at all. They are members of the school community. The language “affirm and believe” acknowledges the good activity of the entire corps of faculty and staff by making this claim on behalf of the institution. That is, in the first instance, “affirm and believe” refers to the Catholic high school itself, and, secondly, to many faculty who identify with the Catholic teachings behind which the high school as a whole stands.

My hope is that the document on Catholic faith and morals that is becoming part of the faculty handbook in our Catholic high schools will help the schools better fulfill their mission, and also highlight for teachers true Catholic teachings that are contested by many people in secular society today.

Sincerely in Christ,
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone Continue Reading

15

Netanyahu Wins and Obama Loses

Kathie Lee Gifford and Matt Lauer Share an Awkward Kiss for the Twizzler Challenge

With nearly all votes counted, Likud appeared to have earned 30 out of parliament’s 120 seats and was in a position to build with relative ease a coalition government with its nationalist, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies. Such a government would likely put Israel at odds with the international community over settlement construction and its opposition to Palestinian statehood, and continue clashing with the White House over hard-line policies.

The election was widely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu, who has governed the country for the past six years. Recent opinion polls indicated he was in trouble, giving chief rival Isaac Herzog of the opposition Zionist Union a slight lead. Exit polls Tuesday showed the two sides deadlocked but once the actual results came pouring in early Wednesday, Likud soared forward. Zionist Union wound up with just 24 seats.

Go here to read the rest.  This is a stinging defeat for Obama because his political operatives went all out to defeat Netanyahu:

Israel began this week abuzz with debate over whether or not the Obama Administration is trying to interfere in Israel’s upcoming elections, and if so, how deeply the White House is involved in seeking “regime change.”

It is by now no secret that President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu don’t get along, to put it mildly.

So when a new political organization going by the name of V15 (Victory in 2015) sprang up with the sole purpose of bringing Netanyahu’s premiership to an end, it didn’t take long before Israelis were pondering the level of Obama’s association.

Reports that V15 had brought on board Jeremy Bird, national field director for Obama’s 2012 campaign, as its “secret weapon” only fueled the fire.

The Senate is currently investigating Obama’s involvement in the Israeli elections: Continue Reading

14

PopeWatch: Msgr. Hans Feichtinger

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Father Z directs our attention to an interesting piece in Crisis on analyzing the style of Pope Francis:

 

This is a quote from this good piece at Crisis by my friend of many years Msgr. Hans Feichtinger, who was until recently a long-time official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Read and decide for yourselves (with my usual emphases and comments):

Demystifying the Pope Francis Enigma

Every modern pope has had his own style. Paul VI was personally like a global student chaplain, intellectually sensitive and pained by the fact that so many were falling away from the Church. John Paul II was the international pastor, constantly on the move, proclaiming the truths of the faith and exhorting us to heroic virtues. Benedict XVI was the universal professor, who carefully thought about the most pressing intellectual issues facing the world today. Pope Francis? In true Jesuit fashion, he may be best characterized as the world’s spiritual director.

Consider the talk Francis gave to the cardinals and the staff of his curia with the long list of spiritual maladies that he wants them to address (December 22, 2014). [He basically beat the tar out of them.] Or look at some buzz lines from recent homilies at Santa Marta: the Church is a mother, not an entrepreneur; rigidity is the sign of a weak heart; theology is done on your knees; keep the temple clean—and do not scandalize the faithful by posting liturgical price lists; do not be afraid of surprises and of conversion. Think about how the pope repeatedly has likened modern forms of Christianity to ancient heresies. [Who can forget the unbeatable “self-referential Promethean Neo-Pelagian” line?] His homilies are like wake-up calls, at times hyperbolic, [at time?  often!] often provocative, reminders about the basic message of the gospel. Not to mention the pope’s unprotected speech in interviews, both in the air and on the ground. This is how the pope preaches his theology and spirituality.

Many of Francis’ pronouncements do not have the binding authority of obligatory teaching; i.e., they are not “magisterium” in the proper sense of the term—people are free to listen and pay attention or not, free to let themselves be challenged, motivated, or convinced. The Holy Father’s language touches the hearts of many, perhaps more than their minds—and presumably this is precisely the pope’s intention. He does not offer refined analysis, carefully weighing all aspects in order to arrive at affirmations that are beyond criticism. What he wants to do is surprise, challenge, provoke, or reassure, console, and support. [This is so.  Alas, what happens when he says things like “Who am I to judge?” is that swaths of people, mislead by the MSM and catholic sources, get the notion that Francis thinks homosexual acts are not to be judged as intrinsically evil.]

To appreciate the words of Pope Francis, it helps to remember the essential distinction between doctrine and theology. No theology can claim for itself the authority of the magisterium. Conversely, the magisterium cannot act as a substitute for theology. The distinction between doctrine and theology, however, is not clear to many who represent the pope’s pronouncements to the public. This is a problem, whether we and the pope like it or not, mostly because we are not used to making this distinction when reading papal pronouncements. [Good point.]

John Paul II and Benedict XVI worked hard composing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Now Francis tells us: the Catechism is not enough. This is certainly true, but people make it sound as if he intends to abolish the Catechism altogether. All Christians, and the Church as a whole, are called to proclaim the faith truthfully and to live it authentically. We all know that there is never a perfect harmony between the precepts of the faith and how the Church and its members act; the solution to this problem is not to formulate a compromise [did you see that “not”?] —repentance and true reform has the aim of bringing our practice closer to the demands of the faith. This is where Francis puts his focus.

All popes need to be allowed the space to exercise their ministry as they see fit. But even more importantly, Catholics need to appreciate the enduring and radical difference between Christ and his deputy: The pope is here in order to ensure that no one and nothing else takes the place of Christ until the Lord himself returns. The pope, more than anyone else, is bound by the example of Christ, and needs to rely on his special assistance (what we call “grace of state”); he is the first of “all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith” (Missal, Roman Canon).

At the same time, [… this is where things get tricky…] the pope represents the Church before the world and before God. Pope Francis does not seem inclined to cover up disagreements within the Church. In many respects, he wants to be more in the Church than over it. When Pope Benedict declared his resignation, he did so acknowledging that he no longer had the strength to be pope. [Quaeritur…] Did he have to step down because we failed to help him carry the heavy burden of the Petrine ministry? And are we now ready to step up and support Pope Francis in the way and to the degree he needs it? We need a pope in order to be Catholic. But conversely, he needs us. An Italian journalist once put it very succinctly: “Dobbiamo amare il Papa—we must love the Pope.” According to the Bible, this love must be “without dissimulation,” literally “unhypocritical” (see the Greek of Rom 12:9). It is this spiritual authenticity that Francis wants us to acquire.

Pope Francis has made his choice about how he would like to exercise his office. Catholics respect his choice by taking his pronouncements and gestures for what they are, which includes not treating them as expressions of the primacy of teaching when they are not. Francis does not want to—and in fact he cannot—challenge the teaching authority of his predecessors; rather, he wants to help us “consider how to provoke one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24). [NB:]Looking at a short, partially improvised homily as if its words were the equivalent of an encyclical of Paul VI is simply ridiculous, and is an offense against the pope’s own intentions. The pope is part of the living tradition of the Church, which is a tradition in the making. The Supreme Pontiff is affected by our inconsistencies, confusions, errors and doctrinal defects, in a double sense: his ministry cannot overlook these issues, and he is himself touched by them. To believe that all popes must be perfect and saints, theologically, is donatism, [Donatism] and historically, madness.

So what does it mean to look at Pope Francis SJ as the universal spiritual director? First of all, it does not mean doubting whether he really is the pope. [Some, amazingly, do.  And they have played games of intellectual Twister.] Surprisingly, perhaps, it is Benedict XVI who can help us find an answer. Already as cardinal, and even more explicitly as pope, he underlined the difference between Church doctrine and his own theology and exegesis: “Everyone is free to contradict me.”[cf his comments about his books Jesus of Nazareth.] Compared to a theological teacher and his student, a spiritual director generally has even more authority over the individual who entrusts himself to his care; at the same time, it remains even more up to the directee what to do with his director’s advice or whether indeed to seek it in the first place. In many cases, this is how Pope Francis seems to understand his own approach. Whether this is the best way of “being pope” remains to be seen, but it is certainly not without its merits. In any case, it comes with a price and has limitations. Indeed, we can be sure the pope himself is aware of these limitations, and we can trust that as a good spiritual director he also lets himself be challenged by others, resisting his own tendency to moralize and spiritualize issues that are in fact doctrinal. [Time will tell.]

Saint Paul reports the famous episode when he had to point out to Saint Peter how some of Peter’s practices were incoherent (Gal 2:11-21)—not that Paul would not have suffered from similar inconsistencies (Acts 16:3). The way Pope Francis acts seems to invite a similar kind of criticism, at least from people who can offer it sincerely and seriously. He is an approachable pope, thus Catholics need to drop the fear of approaching him, even if they approach with something other than praise for his actions. He speaks in his own way to the faithful, very different from his predecessors. Thus, lay Catholics, bishops and clergy will need to change how they relate to his words and gestures and distinguish more accurately with what kind of authority he acts and speaks. If Francis does not want to be as august as some of his predecessors, we should stop trying to force him.  [I sure hope to see a shift in his liturgical style and also in decorum in matters of audiences, etc.  But, who am I to judge?]

As we learn from Benedict XVI, we are often free to contradict the pope, because there is no such thing as an obligatory theology or spirituality, even if it is the pope’s theology or spirituality. We even may not be impressed by his personal style, preferring to wait and see whether his disarmament of papal ceremonies is the best way. Or in Francis’ language: Do not “divinize your leaders!” What is binding on the conscience of all Catholics, clergy and popes included, is the faith, its doctrine and tradition. Authenticity and truth are not the same thing, but certainly they are related, and the Church needs both in order to be truthful and credible: “Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Cor 4:1-2). This pope is different, and therefore papists can and need to be different, too.

Continue Reading

27

Various & Sundry, 3/17/15

– A couple of posts that look at the Democratic field for 2016. First Robert Tracinski on the Democrats weak bench.

The Democrats have an astonishingly weak bench of potential 2016 presidential challengers. National Journal runs down the list, and it’s not a very impressive roster. True, one of these could emerge, maybe a Democratic senator—Amy Klobuchar? Kirsten Gillibrand? Mark Warner?—but there’s no one with a lot of name recognition, even among Democrats, or much of a national political organization. There’s Vice-President Joe Biden, but I suspect his eccentricity is mostly tolerated because of the relative unimportance of his office. And then there’s Elizabeth Warren, who says she’s not running and who, besides, has all the down-to-earth, populist, all-American charisma you would expect from member of the Harvard Faculty Club. Other national Democrats include a bunch of septuagenarians—Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the like—who are hardly up-and-coming young saviors of the party.

How is it that the Democrats have hollowed out their party so much that they do not have an extensive roster of young leaders waiting in the wings?

Tracinski notes how Bill Clinton placed his own political ambition ahead of his party’s needs. Barack Obama has done the same, and in my opinion, has been even more aloof from the rest of his party than either Clinton. This has all had the effect of wiping out the party as it loses election after election at the state and local level, further eroding its bench.

What they may not have anticipated is how badly this would hit them on the state level, where they have been wiped out in the statehouses. This further weakens the bench by ending the career of many a young Democratic politician before it even begins. It’s like a big league baseball team trying to recruit players without access to the “farm teams” where rising stars can gain experience and demonstrate their talent. And as with the effect on Congress, this specifically deprives the Democrats of talent outside a narrow demographic that dominates big cities and the coasts.

Michael Barone suggests this effect: “The geographically clustered Obama coalition—blacks, Hispanics (in some states), gentry liberals—tends to elect officeholders with little incentive to compile records that would make them competitive in target states and capable of winning crossover votes.” A few years ago, this was called the Emerging Democratic Majority. But that theory is in shambles, and it’s looking like Democrats actually pulled aReverse Southern Strategy. They were so intent on basing their electoral future on educated young people and racial minorities that they thoroughly alienate everyone else: whites, southerners, blue-collar workers, suburbanites—all the people they thought they could do without and found out that they can’t.

Victor Davis Hanson has a similar analysis.

A paradox arose in Obama’s efforts at encouraging bloc voting. To galvanize groups on the basis of their race, tribe, or gender, the Obama cadre has resorted to divisive language  — “punish our enemies,” “nation of cowards,” “my people” — that turns off independent voters and even some liberal white voters. When the president weighed in during the trial of the “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman by telling the nation that if he had had a son, that boy would have looked like Trayvon Martin, such an eerie tribal appeal bothered at least as many Americans as it may have stirred. Blacks and Latinos may appreciate Eric Holder’s constant sermonizing about white prejudice or Obama’s riffs on Skip Gates and Ferguson, but just as many other Americans do not believe that Gates was singled out on the basis of race and do not see how the thuggish Michael Brown, who had robbed a store and rushed a police officer, could conceivably become a civil-rights hero.

More importantly, there is no indication that Obama’s knack for firing up minority voters is transferrable in the same measure to other Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton. Once one appeals to tribal identity on the basis of race and appearance, one lives or dies with such superficial affinities. Hillary, in other words, is not Latino or black, and her winning 60 percent of the former or 85 percent of the latter would simply not be good enough under the formulaic racial bloc voting that Obama has bequeathed to Democrats. In addition, Obama seems to bestow voter resentment, as much as he does enthusiasm, on other Democrats. In 2014, it seemed that Obama harmed Democratic candidates a lot more than he helped them, especially when he reminded the electorate that his own policies were de facto on the ballot.

There’s much more at the link, all of it good. The Democrats have put all their eggs in one basket – both in the person of Hillary Clinton and the overall theme of identity politics.

The sad thing about the Democratic field is that it so bad that it’s starting to make the 2008 GOP candidates look like a field of dreams.

– Of course it’s not all roses for the GOP, as it does face a headwind when it comes to the electoral college.

Yes, the somewhat arcane — yet remarkably durable — way in which presidential elections are decided tilts toward Democrats in 2016, as documented by nonpartisan political handicapper Nathan Gonzales in a recent edition of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.

Gonzales notes that if you add up all of the states that are either “safe” for the eventual Democratic nominee or “favor” that nominee, you get 217 electoral votes. (A candidate needs to win 270 to be elected president.) Do the same for states safe or favoring the Republican standard-bearer, per Gonzales’s rankings, and you get just 191 electoral votes.

This is true, but as the previous two articles highlight, some of the identity politics that have given the Democrats this electoral college advantage might no longer be as powerful.

– Then again, does it matter who wins. As this scathing post from Drew M highlights, it’s difficult to root for a team, so to speak, captained by the likes of John Boehner.

– Msgr. Pope digs deeper into the sin of sloth. It isn’t just about being lazy.

That said, sloth does often manifest itself as a kind of lethargy, a boredom that can’t seem to muster any interest, energy, joy, or enthusiasm for spiritual gifts. Such people may be enthusiastic about many things, but God and the faith are not among them.

. . . And boredom feeds right into sloth. The “still, small voice of God,” the quiet of prayer, the simple reading of Scripture and the pondering of its message, the unfolding of spiritual meaning through reflection, the slower joys of normal human conversation in communal prayer and fellowship … none of these appeal to the many who are overstimulated and used to a breakneck pace. Sunday, once the highlight of the week for many (due to the beauty of the liturgy, the music, the hearing of the sermon, the joy of fellowship, and the quiet of Holy Communion), is now considered boring and about as appealing as going to the dentist, a necessary evil at best.  Thus, sloth is fueled by the boredom our culture feels at anything going less than 90 miles and hour.

Sigh.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has decided that his 4,700-store enterprise is no longer just going to be offering customers coffee, frothy drinks, and overpriced pastries. His baristas will soon serve up a venti-size helping of social justice.

“Starbucks published a full page ad in the New York Times on Sunday — a stark, black, page with a tiny caption ‘Shall We Overcome?’ in the middle, and the words ‘Race Together’ with the company logo, on the bottom right,” read a Fortune Magazine report previewing a forthcoming Starbucks campaign in which the coffee chain’s baristas will be encouraged to talk about race relations with their customers.

I rarely go to Starbucks, mainly because I don’t feel like paying $2.50 for burnt-tasting coffee. This is just further reason to avoid the place. Because really, I fully expect bored twenty-somethings to provide meaningful dialogue about complex racial and political issues while serving coffee.

– The Ferguson Report reminds Dave French why he became a conservative.

And that malignancy has spread throughout the public institutions. Our local government’s core mission was dispensing favors. If you were part of the local elite, the normal rules of life simply didn’t apply. Speeding tickets? No problem. You need a conditional use permit? You got it! To this day one of the most satisfying events of my professional life was defeating the local zoning board in the first constitutional case of my career — winning the case after a local leader haughtily told my church client, “We can and will dictate how you worship.”

. . .Reading the DOJ’s Ferguson report took me back to the bad old days. It is the story of a small class of the local power brokers creating two sets of rules, one for the connected and another for the mass of people who are forced — often at gunpoint — to pay for the “privilege” of being governed. This is a very old story, and if the poor of Ferguson are overwhelmingly black, then it’s inevitable that a government built on exploitation will disproportionately exploit black citizens. I have no doubt that there are some racists in Ferguson’s leadership, but we also know that even black leaders will exploit black citizens in the cities they lead — setting up de facto rules that benefit the governing class at the expense of the poor. See, for example, Detroit.  It is entirely possible to believe (as I do) that the evidence indicates that “hands up, don’t shoot” is a fiction, even a malicious fiction, while also believing that the evidence indicates that Ferguson’s government was corrupt in exactly the way that government is typically corrupt.