A cute PSA from ASPCA; it features The Purring (1980), The Texas Chainpaw Meowsacre (1974), Psycat(1960) and Cattie (1976). (Only possibly nasty part is the paper cutout of the mask for the second one– my preschooler didn’t have an issue with any of it, so probably only disturbing if you know what it’s supposed to be.)
Something for a Halloween weekend. Hey there Cthulhu. A minor vice of mine is a love for old pulp science fiction and fantasy. One of the authors I treasure is H.P. Lovecraft, best known for his cycle of horror science fiction\fantasy stories centering around the Old Ones, evil supernatural entities that lurk in dark dimensions, waiting to unleash unspeakable horror on unsuspecting humanity. The best known of these demonic creatures is Cthulhu. I have always found these stories gut-bustingly funny due to the fact that Lovecraft, in these stories, has to be the worst writer of fiction, at least fiction that does not contain phrases like “Love’s Savage Unending Fury”, “The Davinci Code”, “Based On A True Story”, and “Stephen King”, since Bulwer-Lytton shuffled off to the world beyond. Some things are so spectactularly bad that I find myself liking them due to how hair-raisingly inept they are.
One of my favorite stops at the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield.
The Thirty-third Infantry Illinois Volunteers was organized at Camp Butler, Illinois, in the month of September, 1861, by Colonel Chas. E. Hovey, and mustered into the United States service by Captain T. G. Pitcher, U. S. A.
Colleagues, it is time for us to take a stand. It has come to our attention that some of our members have come under attack from a group of right-wing Catholics who have no academic credentials: not a theological degree among them. As far as we can tell, none of them are even college graduates. They are all white (of course) and all male (of course). Some of them have produced texts that have been used against our fellow Catholic academics, often resulting in cries of heresy being raised by people who share their narrow, blinkered view of Catholicism. This is intolerable in the twenty-first century for brilliant scholars to be held to account by ignorant yahoos. We therefore ask you to append your names to the attached open letter and e-mail it back to us for future publication. United, we can prevail over this assault of anti-intellectualism masquerading as Catholicism!
Alas, I must part company with our bruin friend in his most recent tongue-in-bear-cheek post at Saint Corbinian’s Bear:
Blogs are essential to the well-informed and motivated Catholic. Therefore, it is important to know which blogs are edifying, while avoiding the gimcrack offerings of slipshod shysters. To this end, the Bear offers the following qualifications you should demand from anyone who seeks your valuable time and attention. If you follow the Bear’s advice, you will avoid bloggers who are just sensationalistic click-prostitutes out to make a buck.
The kind of blogger you want must combine the following education and experience.
A blogger must be able to persuade people to follow the right course of action. Someone equally skilled in forensic debating and arguing before regular folks is required. To give an example of someone who should not be in Catholic media is a journalist. Journalists strive to maintain a detached objectivity. Is that who we’re looking for in these dark days? No. We need advocates!
A good blogger should be able to sort out competing claims using a well-developed instinct. He should be able to employ relentless questioning to wring the truth out of unwilling witnesses. He must have a razor sharp intellect.
A good blogger, it goes without saying, should be more than a pretty face. In fact, good looks are definitely not a requirement, because, after all, this is not television! He should be capable of writing his own material, employing all the tools of the wordsmith: interview, narrative, analysis, and even humor and irony. He must be persuasive, even as he remains fair and accurate.
A good blogger is capable of doing his own tireless research. He must be able to put together the jigsaw puzzle of complicated situations, and determining the means, motives and opportunities of the various actors.
If you look at these qualifications, you’ll see that there is really only one profession that should be allowed to blog:
The blogger must have a JD. Lawyers are even licensed, so you know they’re legit. Are journalists licensed? No. Anybody can call himself a journalist and scribble for whoever will hire him.
But, still, something is missing. Not just any lawyer will do. Not even a good one. He must have an appeal that combines scary and cute.
When necessary, he should have the talent to employ the Old Razzle Dazzle. This requires extensive experience in secular show business:
It’s all show business kid, These trials, the whole world, show business. But kid, you’re workin’ with a star, the biggest!
So, unless your blogger combines all of these qualifications, he’s just in it for the money and should be avoided at all costs.
Our bruin friend over at Saint Corbinian’s Bear has been on a roll lately:
Michael Voris is once again under the Bear’s scrutiny, because once again he has done something noteworthy. Since the Bear is not a Professional Broadcaster, he will go with an easy-to-understand, lawyerly chronological outline at the risk of burying the lede.
Voris’ premise is that the bad guys are playing a game of pointing fingers of blame at conservatives when conservatives criticize Pope Francis. This is a welcome clarification of his recent “Failed Papacy?” Vortex, which the Bear found impossible to understand. Voris’ premise depends upon the idea that ordinary folks follow ecclesiastical politics and care. Voris gave three examples of how this has been tried.
First: “The Letter.” The letter circulated by some prelates was spun into an attack on the Pope. Some of them who had supposedly signed it, denied signing it. Voris apparently supposes this had traction with the man on the street.
Second: “The Tumor.” There was some speculation that the story released by an Italian newspaper was planted by evil conservatives to undermine Pope Francis’ papacy, although there were never any names suggested to the Bear’s knowledge. Again, Voris imagines that people follow this sort of “inside baseball.”
Third: “The Pope’s Enemies.” Cardinal Wuerl speculates about the Pope’s enemies. Once again, people are supposed to hear this, know who Cardinal Wuerl is, and agree with him. Thus we, the good guys, take heavy damage, according to Voris.
Liberals and Modernists use these tactics because they know they work, Voris says. In secular politics, criticize President Obama and liberals will call you a racist. Similarly, criticize the Pope and Modernists will say you, well, criticized the Pope. (A quibble: America has a built-in race factor bubbling under the surface that liberals can tap into in a way Cardinal Wuerl can’t in ecclesiastical politics.)
Now the reason we should not attack the Pope is because it is a bad tactic. For this reason, according to Voris, we should attack the evil men around the Pope.
Voris’ Solution: Ditch Blogs and Rely on the Professionals
This is where it gets interesting. It reminds the Bear of the scene in Ghostbusters where Venkman tells the guy at the library, “Back off, man. I’m a scientist.” Except now it’s “Back off, man. I’m a Professional Journalist.”
First, you have to have a real theological education to detect “subtleties and nuances.”
Second, you have to have professional, secular media experience.
Why, what do you know! We’re in luck! Michael Voris has both of these qualifications. In case you have failed to connect the dots, Voris actually states Church Militant TV has these ingredients. And they’re no fly-by-night blogs sensationalizing things for a few extra clicks.
And then he immediately asks for money: to buy a Premium Membership.
So do you get this? Don’t bother with a bunch of amateurs who will hose it all up. Stick with professionals, like, why, me! It’s like the famous 1975 Daily News headline, “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” Except this time it’s “VORIS TO BLOGGERS: DROP DEAD.”
The Bear’s Reaction
The Bear can’t help but observe that if you allow the other side to control the debate, you’ve already lost. When the Bear practiced trial defense, he would always pick the prosecution’s most shocking piece of real evidence, maybe the murder weapon, to pick up and use before the jury. It showed everyone that the Bear was not afraid of anything the prosecution could present. It also desensitized them, thus eliminating the shock value.
The other side is going to do their thing, period. There are givens. You can’t let that dictate your strategy.
So the Bear is not sure he even agrees with Voris’ premise. This just sounds like the same old lyrics of “don’t criticize the Pope,” set to a different tune. The Bear is not convinced that most people are attuned to ecclesiastical politics as are we visitors, friends and woodland creatures, or Michael Voris’ Premium Members.
But that’s not even the main thing that moved the Bear to put paws to keyboard.
VORIS TO BLOGGERS: DROP DEAD
In case you missed it, unless you’re Michael Voris, you bloggers should take your cheap quest for clicks somewhere far from Catholic news. You don’t have a degree in theology? You don’t have extensive secular broadcast experience? Then you don’t have what it takes to be in the big boy’s game. You’ll miss the subtleties and won’t know how to present the story. And you don’t even have a rich backer to send you to Rome where you can look like a journalist, “live from Rome,” even though you have said you don’t act as one. (Which makes one wonder what the use of that formidable professional experience is, since Voris apologized for acting like a journalist in the “Harming the Pope” incident with Cardinal Burke on October 22 of last year.)
Having liberal media figures moderating presidential debates is insane from the perspective of anyone supporting the GOP, or simply interested in basic fairness. Why Republicans put up with it every four years is beyond me. Last night Senator Ted Cruz (R. TX) blew that game apart. The “journalist” Ted Cruz was ripping into is John Harwood. He is a pathetically transparent liberal hack, always in the tank for the Democrat Party. Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist wonders what Harwood was doing there:
Edward Pentin, who is rapidly establishing himself as the standard by which all Catholic journalists should measure themselves, has an interesting Q and A with Cardinal Pell about the Synod at the National Catholic Register:
Your Eminence, what was your overall assessment of the synod?
I’ve been to seven synods, I think this was certainly the most interesting and also was very hard work. I think the final document is immensely better than the instrumentum laboris, in every way. It’s elegantly written, it’s more clearly structured, the level of argumentation is not embarrassingly low, and it’s a consensus document. There was massive consensus on 92 of the 94 paragraphs and there is nothing in the set of paragraphs that is heretical or opposed to current Church practice.
Paragraphs 84-86 on divorce and remarriage only just got enough votes and have drawn criticism for being ambiguous. Is this a problem?
No it’s not ambiguous, it’s insufficient. There’s really no ambiguity in the text. If you closely examine the text in 85, it’s very clear. The basis for all the discernment must be the “insegnamento complessivo”* – complete teaching – of John Paul II. Then it goes on to repeat that the basis of discernment is the teaching of the Church.
A lot of the fathers would have liked it spelled out a bit more explicitly but there is no mention anywhere of Communion for the divorced and remarried. It’s not one of the possibilities that was floated. The document is cleverly written to get consensus. Some people would say it’s insufficient. It’s not ambiguous.
The headlines in some Italian newspapers, and an Irish website, implied the Church was now allowing all remarried divorcees to receive Holy Communion on a case-by-case basis. What’s your view of this? That is completely unjustified. There is nothing in the document to justify that, and the Polish bishops came out today I believe to say very explicitly that such an understanding is not justified by the text. Now you might like the text or dislike it. You might think it’s good, bad or indifferent, but at least let us read it accurately and justly, and judge it on its own terms. So those headlines are inaccurate and misleading. They’ve probably been fed a line. I’m not sure there was or is an official English text so there’s some excuse for them misunderstanding it, but such headlines are not justified. People should go to those paragraphs and judge for themselves.
Some were critical that Familiaris consortio was cherry picked, and its clear position on not admitting remarried divorcees omitted, thereby diminishing the integrity of the apostolic letter. How do you respond to that?
Well the full text is not quoted, but they did add the word “complessivo” – it’s the entire teaching of John Paul II which is the basis, not the incomplete citation that was given.
What’s your view on other parts of the document, such as the fact that the same-sex issue that was left off?
It wasn’t left off, it was emphatically rejected that there was any comparison between homosexual marriage and same-sex unions. There was explicit rejection of the theory of graduality of the law. There’s a reaffirmation of the teaching of Humanae Vitae, there’s an adequate presentation of the teaching on conscience. All these things are significant reinforcements of the present doctrine of the Church.
What do you hope the Holy Father will do with this report. Do you think there will be a post-synodal apostolic exhortation?
I don’t know. That would be a normal expectation but we don’t know.
Do you think that more clarity is needed, if not now then after the Jubilee Year of Mercy perhaps?
I don’t know — the Holy Father’s business is his business. What we do want, and this is one of the great benefits of the papacy, is not to have years of struggle as there was in the Anglican Communion over the ordination of women. There will be another synod, another theme, so it’ll be good to move on from this. [It’s] quite clear that the synod has not broken with essential Catholic tradition in either doctrine or practice.
At last year’s synod, there was manipulation and clearly an agenda being pushed. Are you more content with what has happened at this year’s meeting?
Yes, we voted paragraph by paragraph and, in most ways, the document did represent what was discussed in the groups whereas the interim relatio last time bore little relationship with the discussion in most groups. The Holy Father said there would be no manipulation and so we were substantially reassured on that.
You had this year 45 papal-appointed delegates who appeared to swing the vote. It’s said those controversial paragraphs on divorce and remarriage probably wouldn’t have passed without those papal appointees.
“The election of Cardinal Pacelli is not accepted with favor in Germany because he was always opposed to Nazism and practically determined the policies of the Vatican under his predecessor.”
Berlin Morgenpost, March 3, 1939
Of all the historical controversies that I have examined over the years, the one over Pius XII has to be the most mendacious. Everyone, the Nazis, the Allies and the Jews, knew where Pope Pius XII stood during the War. Pope Pius was regarded as a hero by all who opposed the Nazis and the Nazis regarded him as a bitter enemy. The controversy arose after his death, instigated by playwright Rolf Hochhuth and his historically worthless anti-Catholic diatribe The Deputy (1963), a play which sought to cast Pius XII as coldly indifferent to the fate of the Jews, a reverse mirror image of the actual historical record. Haters of the Church eagerly seized upon this thesis as a club to belabor the Church for her stances in current controversies. There has never been any historical validity to the thesis: zilch, zero, none. Its persistence has much to do with anti-Catholicism and nothing to do with History.
“When the pope arose the next morning, he had made up his mind. He would engage the German military resistance and encourage a conservative counterrevolution. He would serve as secret foreign agent for the resistance—presenting and guaranteeing its plans to the British. He would partner with the generals not just to stop the war, but to eliminate Nazism by removing Hitler.”
Pius XII was even willing to be involved in plots to assassinate Hitler:
It’s always nice when you are set to write on a topic but find yourself with a lack of time to discover that somebody else has already covered the issue. So, thank you C.C. Pecknold for doing the heavy lifting so that I don’t have to. Writing about the troublesome paragraphs of the final report of the synod on the family, Pecknold observes:
Jesuits, in fact, have a reputation for just this kind of casuistry that is so apparent in the ambiguous paragraphs. All signs point to Pope Francis’s interpreting them in the way progressives hope. But I’m on record as being a hopeful conservative with regard to this pope, often reading him against the liberal narrative rather than with it. I am obedient to the Office of Saint Peter, and I love this pope. I pray for him as I pray for my own father. And I trust that the Holy Spirit will guard and protect the pope insofar as God uses him as an instrument of the Church’s unity, as a guardian of the deposit of faith, and as our chief evangelist. But as Saint Paul reminds us, our obedience must be rational (Rom. 12.1–2). And thus far rational obedience impels me to ask the Holy Father questions.
What sort of legalism does the pope have in mind? When the pope condemns the Pharisees, does he realize that they were the ones who were casuistical and loosely legalist in allowing for divorce? Does he know that Christ responded to the Pharisees’ legalism with a radical gospel challenge that renewed the creation of man in grace, and the indissolubility of marriage? Does he see that Kasper’s proposal is itself at one with the Pharisees? Does he really think conservatives are teachers of the law rather than of virtue and truth? Does he really think that progressives wanting to accommodate the Church to liberal values, or comply with secular mores, are the vital source of newness for the Church?
Even if Pecknold’s hopefulness with regards to the Pontiff is a tad naive, the observation about Phariseeism is spot on. Heterodox, dissenting Catholics are the quickest to use the term “Pharisee,” mainly because that’s about the only argument their poor brains can muster. When applied to the issue of civilly divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion, this label is horribly misapplied. Jesus was highly critical of the Pharisees not merely because they were legalistic, but because their legalism in essence became their religion, and they missed the forest for the trees in their approach to faith. If Catholics were in the habit of suggesting that people could not receive Communion if their shirts were not buttoned up to at least the penultimate button, that would be a more apt description of Phariseeism. Insisting that we adhere to the strict words of Jesus quoted in the Gospels with respect to Catholic couples cohabitating in a state of sin is most certainly not a form of Phariseeism. The true Pharisees will be the ones who use the language of the final synod report to permit couples living in this state of sin to receive the Eucharist absent true repentance. Get ready to see just how many camels they will be trying to fit through the eye of the needle.