13

Dune the Nightmare

 

Well, Clan McClarey, as is our custom, will be toasting the new year by watching Dune (1984), a film so spectacularly bad that is entertaining, a true train wreck of the filmmaking art.  Director David Lynch in the above video explains just how much a disaster the three years the film took to make became for him.  In a 1985 interview, below, he is, unsurprisingly, somewhat more circumspect, although he seems haunted by the ordeal he has just put behind him. Continue Reading

12

Quick, Someone Tell the Pope

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“A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades, this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”

Pope Francis, Laudato Si

 

 

Well, apparently scientists, contrary to the claims of advocates of the global warming scam, are not in lock step behind this hoax:

 

It is becoming clear that not only do many scientists dispute the asserted global warming crisis, but these skeptical scientists may indeed form a scientific consensus.

Don’t look now, but maybe a scientific consensus exists concerning global warming after all. Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.

The survey results show geoscientists (also known as earth scientists) and engineers hold similar views as meteorologists. Two recent surveys of meteorologists (summarized here and here) revealed similar skepticism of alarmist global warming claims.

According to the newly published survey of geoscientists and engineers, merely 36 percent of respondents fit the “Comply with Kyoto” model. The scientists in this group “express the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause.”

The authors of the survey report, however, note that the overwhelming majority of scientists fall within four other models, each of which is skeptical of alarmist global warming claims.

The survey finds that 24 percent of the scientist respondents fit the “Nature Is Overwhelming” model. “In their diagnostic framing, they believe that changes to the climate are natural, normal cycles of the Earth.” Moreover, “they strongly disagree that climate change poses any significant public risk and see no impact on their personal lives.”

Another group of scientists fit the “Fatalists” model. These scientists, comprising 17 percent of the respondents, “diagnose climate change as both human- and naturally caused. ‘Fatalists’ consider climate change to be a smaller public risk with little impact on their personal life. They are skeptical that the scientific debate is settled regarding the IPCC modeling.” These scientists are likely to ask, “How can anyone take action if research is biased?” Continue Reading

11

Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

Benedict-XV 

The cheapest and most childish of all the taunts of the Pacifists is, I think, the sneer at belligerents for appealing to the God of Battles. It is ludicrously illogical, for we obviously have no right to kill for victory save when we have a right to pray for it. If a war is not a holy war, it is an unholy one — a massacre.

                                                                                  G.K. Chesterton, October 23, 1915

(Rudyard Kipling was born one hundred and fifty years ago yesterday on December 30, 1865.  To observe the date I am reposting this post from 2011.  On all that I have written about Kipling, and that is now a considerable amount, this is my favorite piece. I would observe in passing that both Chesterton and CS Lewis, although they differed considerably from Kipling’s views on many topics, were both fans of him as a writer.)

The eighth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here and here.   Kipling wrote quite a few poems during his lifetime.  Some are world-famous, most are not, and some are today almost completely forgotten.   The Holy War (1917) is today one of Kipling’s most obscure poems, but caused something of a stir when he wrote it in Advent during 1917.

A tinker out of Bedford,
A vagrant oft in quod,
A private under Fairfax,
A minister of God–
Two hundred years and thirty
Ere Armageddon came
His single hand portrayed it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

He mapped, for those who follow,
The world in which we are–
 ‘This famous town of Mansoul’
That takes the Holy War
Her true and traitor people,
The gates along her wall,
From Eye Gate unto Feel Gate,
John Bunyan showed them all.

All enemy divisions,
Recruits of every class,
 And highly-screened positions
For flame or poison-gas,
The craft that we call modern,
The crimes that we call new,
John Bunyan had ’em typed and filed
In Sixteen Eighty-two

Likewise the Lords of Looseness
That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
 And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
Who crack beneath a strain–
John Bunyan met that helpful set
In Charles the Second’s reign.

Emmanuel’s vanguard dying
For right and not for rights,
My Lord Apollyon lying
 To the State-kept Stockholmites,
 The Pope, the swithering Neutrals,
The Kaiser and his Gott–
 Their roles, their goals, their naked souls–
He knew and drew the lot.

Now he hath left his quarters,
 In Bunhill Fields to lie.
The wisdom that he taught us
Is proven prophecy–
One watchword through our armies,
One answer from our lands–
 ‘No dealings with Diabolus
 As long as Mansoul stands.

_A pedlar from a hovel,
The lowest of the low,
The father of the Novel,
Salvation’s first Defoe,
Eight blinded generations
Ere Armageddon came,
He showed us how to meet it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

At one level the poem is a fairly straight-forward paean to John Bunyan, the English writer who penned Pilgrims’s Progress, which every school child used to read back in days when schools spent far more time on academics and far less time on political indoctrination and fake subjects like “Consumer Ed”.  He also wrote quite a few other books and pamphlets, perhaps the best known of which is The Holy War, which portrays a war for the City of Mansoul between the good defenders and the evil besiegers.  I need not spell out the allegorical meaning of the work when the city’s named is rendered as Man Soul.  Kipling had been a devotee of Bunyan since his childhood, and I suppose that part of his motivation in writing the poem was to pay back a literary debt. Continue Reading

44

Friendly Fire

When Rick Perry dropped out of the presidential race in 2o12 it was an easy decision to back Rick Santorum. Santorum was easily the best of the remaining field of candidates, as his political ideology closely mirrored my own. I have no desire to fe-fight the battles of 2012, though I will say that I thought some of the attacks on Santorum, particularly by some on the libertarian-right who depicted Rick as a big government conservative, were unfair.

Santorum is running again for the presidency, and thus far is gaining almost no traction. Considering that GOP runners-up have historically wound up being the man nominated next time, this is somewhat curious. It’s true that the field is (or was) much stronger, but Santorum had established a decent base of support. It’s also worth noting that while Donald Trump has rocketed to the top of the polls largely based on his strong rhetoric vis a vis illegal immigration, Santorum, unlike the Donald, has consistently been an immigration hawk. Even with Donald’s bluster, Santrum still holds the strictest line on immigration – legal and illegal. And yet he flounders, barely registering in the polls.

Whatever the cause for his stagnation, he and his supporters still hold out hope that he can make the same kind of poll comeback in Iowa as he did four years ago. Indeed he is in about the same spot in the polls as he was at this time, roughly five weeks before the Iowa caucus. Yet it doesn’t seem likely that Santorum will come from back of the pack this time, and one of the primary reasons is Ted Cruz. Cruz has garnered the support of the evangelical and conservative wings of the party, and what’s more, he has developed the sort of ground game in Iowa and elsewhere that makes it very unlikely he will fade from the race.

I am most certainly not the only Santorum supporter who prefers Cruz this time around. Though I still like Rick, there are a few key differences between the two that make me prefer Cruz. I’ve always been a bit bothered by Santorum’s more bellicose foreign policy views, and Cruz seems to fit a happier middle ground between the Paulite and McCainiac extremes of the party. Santorum has also backed ethanol subsidies and the Export-Import bank, two corporate welfare schemes that belie the idea that he is not in fact a big government conservative.

With Santorum being desperate to start gaining ground, he has decided to go after Cruz on social issues. Santorum, like Mike Huckaphony Huckabee last week, has tried to take advantage of a Politico hit piece news story purporting to show Cruz being two-faced on social issues.

In June, Ted Cruz promised on NPR that opposition to gay marriage would be “front and center” in his 2016 campaign.

In July, he said the Supreme Court’s decision allowing same-sex marriage was the “very definition of tyranny” and urged states to ignore the ruling.

But in December, behind closed doors at a big-dollar Manhattan fundraiser, the quickly ascending presidential candidate assured a Republican gay-rights supporter that a Cruz administration would not make fighting same-sex marriage a top priority.

In a recording provided to POLITICO, Cruz answers a flat “No” when asked whether fighting gay marriage is a “top-three priority,” an answer that pleased his socially moderate hosts but could surprise some of his evangelical backers.

Aha! You see – Cruz isn’t as committed to social issues as his public statements make him seen. He’s a fraud!

Except, as Patterico points out, everything Cruz said in private is what he has been saying publicly for months on the campaign trail. First, Patterico provides the full quote from the fundraiser:

Q: Can I ask you a question? So, I’m a big supporter. And the only issue I really disagree with you about is gay marriage. And I’m curious: Given all the problems that the country’s facing — like ISIS, the growth of government — how big a priority is fighting gay marriage going to be to a Cruz administration?

CRUZ: “My view on gay marriage is that I’m a constitutionalist and marriage is a question for the states. And so I think if someone wants to change the marriage laws of their state, the way to do so is convince your fellow citizens — and change them democratically, rather than five unelected judges. … Being a constitutionalist is integral to my approach to every other issue. So that I’m very devoted to.

Q: So would you say it’s like a top-three priority for you — fighting gay marriage?

CRUZ: “No. I would say defending the Constitution is a top priority. And that cuts across the whole spectrum — whether it’s defending [the] First Amendment, defending religious liberty, stopping courts from making public policy issues that are left to the people. …

I also think the 10th Amendment of the Constitution cuts across a whole lot of issues and can bring people together. People of New York may well resolve the marriage question differently than the people of Florida or Texas or Ohio. … That’s why we have 50 states — to allow a diversity of views. And so that is a core commitment.

There’s more at the link. Long story short, there is absolutely no inconsistency between what Cruz said in private and what he has said in public.

Santorum, though, has decided to attack Cruz for his federalist-inspired approach.

“It’s basically that he’s not the social conservative that he’s portraying himself to be and is the answer is he’s not,” added Santorum, citing aPolitico story where Cruz said on a secret tape at a fundraiser that he wouldn’t make fighting same-sex marriage a top three priority in his administration.

“If people want to do drugs in Colorado, it’s fine with him,” said Santorum. “If people want have different kind of marriages, it’s fine with him. He doesn’t agree with it. If you want to have an abortion, it’s fine with him, he doesn’t agree with it, but he’s not gonna fight it. That’s not what people are looking for. They’re looking for someone who has a very clear vision of what’s right and what’s wrong and be able to lay that vision out for the American people.”

This is at best a gross mischaracterization of Cruz’s beliefs. What’s more, as streiff at Redstate says:

There is nothing non-conservative about saying that you are willing to allow the voters of Colorado to legalize drugs or the voters of Massachusetts to legalize homosexual marriage. That doesn’t make those decisions right but what social conservatism is about is creating a space where people of faith are free to campaign to have their view be the dominant one. On abortion that means fighting in all states to have abortion outlawed. It doesn’t mean you have to win in all states. It means getting the Supreme Court out of these issues and not imposing Anthony Kennedy’s perverted view of human sexuality upon 300 million people.

I’d go a step further than streiff and note that Cruz’s approach is far, far more likely to lead to social conservative victories than is Santorum’s. Sad to say, Santorum is living up to his image as a would-be nagger in chief. Cruz’s approach, meanwhile, is one that would get the courts out of the social policy game. If the states are left to their own devices to set policy, then we would have a much greater chance of seeing abortion outlawed or gay marriages not sanctioned than we would now. That is not to say that we stop fighting the cultural values – just the opposite. It’s just that the primary objective of a president is to appoint justices who respect the 10th Amendment and would thus allow those fights to be had on a local level. It would then be up to social conservatives to spread their message in New York, California, Massachusetts, etc.

I understand why Santorum said what he said, but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Yet I’ve been constantly disappointed by the need people seem to feel to absolutely denigrate every presidential candidate that is not their first choice, but that’s another discussion.

 

 

1

Bob Hope Show: Christmas 1945

Broadcast on December 18, 1945, the Bob Hope Christmas show for 1945 gives an interesting insight into America as it observed its first peacetime Christmas in five years.  Hope mentions product shortages in his jokes and in a skit the housing shortage comes up.  His guest star was actor Wayne Morris.  Morris had served as a Navy flier, shooting down seven Japanese planes and contributing to the sinking of five ships, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  He earned four Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals.  A rising star before the War, Morris never recovered from putting his career on hiatus during the War.  He spent the rest of his career mostly in low budget Westerns.  He died of a heart attack in 1959 at age 45 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

4

Saint Thomas Becket: Saint of Courage

We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, God permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still at least one vice of which they feel genuine shame.

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

 

 

Today is the feast day of Saint Thomas Becket, “the holy, blessed martyr”.  His fearless championing of the True Faith against his liege and former friend, Henry II, reminds us of the importance of courage as a virtue among Christians. From the historical record it is clear to me that Becket knew that his stand would likely end in his being a martyr for Christ, a destiny he embraced and sealed with his blood.  TS Eliot put into the mouth of Becket this homily on Christmas morning 1170 that probably was close to what the Archbishop actually said at the time: Continue Reading

15

Predictions for 2016

 

 

Well, here I stroll once again in where angels fear to tread and make my predictions for 2016:

  1.  The GOP national ticket will consist of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, but I am uncertain as to which of them will be the nominee for President.
  2. By the time of the conventions Donald Trump will be a spent force.  He will run third party in the fall with a Democrat in the second slot.  He will draw about seven percent of the vote, and his votes will come from both parties.
  3. Clinton will win the Democrat nomination, unless health problems force her to retire from the race.  Bernie Sanders will bolt the convention and run third party, drawing about two percent of the vote.
  4. The Republicans will win the presidential race.
  5. The Republicans will retain control of both Houses of Congress.

Continue Reading

2

Holy Innocents

A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. 

Matthew 2:18

Herod’s murder of the Holy Innocents is remembered on this feast day of the Holy Innocents.  The video below is a moving depiction of this horrendous crime from the film Jesus of Nazareth

Herod ordered this massacre in a futile attempt to stop the Light of the World from completing His mission of salvation.  In our day Holy Innocents are slaughtered each and every day in an ultimately futile attempt to deny what Christ taught:  that we are all brothers and sisters and that we must love God and love one another.  Some day this modern Herod emulation that goes by the name of legal abortion will cease, and the feast day of the Holy Innocents is a very good day for us to resolve to work unceasingly to bring that day closer. Continue Reading

1

Christ and History

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Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest, who normally writes on purely secular topics, has an interesting Christmas column up:

 

The Christian claim about the Virgin Birth is meant as a radical announcement that Christianity is different. Christianity is not another ‘how-to’ manual telling people how to act vis-à-vis the Creator. It’s not about what kinds of foods are holy and what kinds are impure. It’s not about how to wash your hands or which way you should face when you pray.

 

 

Christianity is much more than a group of people trying to fulfill the teaching of a revered founder; it is a community of people gathered around a world changing hero. Jesus came to save and not just to teach. He did not fulfill his mission by giving the Sermon on the Mount; he fulfilled it by dying on the cross and by rising from the dead.

 

 

More, Jesus could not have fulfilled this mission if he was simply a heroic man. The human race has many heroes and history is filled with the examples of people who gave their lives for others. You can to go the Normandy beaches and see row upon row of graves of people who gave their lives that others might live and be free. Jesus accomplished more through his death because he was more than just another human being; the gospel writers and the Christians who accept their testimony believe that Jesus was also the Son of God. It was God who died upon that cross, God who took the responsibility for human sin, God who drank the cup of human suffering to the bottom.

 

 

The story of the Virgin Birth isn’t there to set up the Sermon on the Mount as the Greatest Moral Lecture in the History of Mankind. It is there because it communicates the deepest, most important truth about Jesus: that he was a human being, but more than a human being as well. It is not an accidental detail or an embellishment; it is not an awkward defense against an embarrassing rumor. It is not the result of scientific ignorance about how babies are made; it is a statement about how this particular baby was different from all the rest.

 

 

That is the main theological point that Luke’s account makes. But he had another end in view, and this is also something to remember as we think Christmas through. The story of the Virgin Birth isn’t just a story about Jesus.  The gospels are also making a point about Mary and through her about women in general. Ancient Christian writers frequently referred to Mary as the Second Eve. The first Eve, as just about everyone knows even today, was Adam’s wife. According to the first book of the Bible (Genesis), she yielded to the temptation of the serpent in the Garden of Eden to disobey God and taste the forbidden fruit. Adam went on and tasted it for himself; ever since then men have been blaming women for all the trouble in the world. For millennia men have used the Biblical story and similar stories and folk tales to justify the second-class status to which women have been historically relegated in much of the world. (In some parts of the world, poorly behaved and uneducated young men call their vicious harassment of women “Eve-teasing.”)

 

 

The figure of the Virgin Mary marks a turning point. She is the Second Eve, the one who said ‘yes’ to God when he asked her to be the mother of his son. When God really needed help, the Bible teaches, he went to a woman, not to a man. And the woman said ‘yes,’ and out of her faith and obedience came the salvation of the world. Continue Reading

4

Quotes Suitable for Framing: George Will

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Presidential campaigns inflate expectations that power wielded from government’s pinnacle will invigorate the nation. Thus campaigns demonstrate that creationists threaten the creative ferment that produces social improvement. Not religious creationists, who are mistaken but inconsequential. It is secular creationists whose social costs are steep.

“Secular theists” — economist Don Boudreaux’s term — produce governments gripped by the fatal conceit that they are wiser than society’s spontaneous experimental order. Such governments imposed order suffocates improvisation and innovation. Like religious creationists gazing upon biological complexity, secular theists assume that social complexity requires an intentional design imposed from on high by wise designers, a.k.a. them.

George Will

10

Predictions of Times Past

 

Well, it is that time again for me to review my predictions for the year coming to an end and eat a little crow.

 

 

1.   The contraceptive mandate will be found to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.

Not yet.  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeals of seven non-profits, including The Little Sisters of the Poor.  Stay tuned.

2.   A major component of ObamaCare will found to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.

Not yet.  Constitutional challenges are still winding their way slowly through the Federal courts.

3.   Obama will veto at least ten pieces of legislation during the coming year.

Nope, just five.  Prior to 2015 he had vetoed two bills.

4.   Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus will be perceived to be increasingly at odds.

Nope.  Whatever the Pope Emeritus thinks about his successor, he has been maintaining a tight silence.

5.   A major development will be announced regarding the possibility of a warp drive.

Nope, although there has been some tantalizing work on the EmDrive. Continue Reading

1

Star Wars the Premake

 

A truly epic attempt by John D’Amico to recreate the first Stars Wars film, A New Hope, shot for shot using clips from pre-1977 films.  Some of the clips are misses but most are so on-target that it is difficult not to believe that they influenced Lucas in his crafting of a film that took a mishmash of heroic themes and archetypes and made them a huge crowd pleaser with then cutting edge technology.    The seventies prior to Star Wars was the age of the anti-hero, especially after the aging and ailing John Wayne was in the process of departing the scene.  The first Star Wars trilogy brought back heroes to cheer and villians to boo and told their tale in a coherent manner,  simple accomplishments actually, but we were then entering a period when even the simplest things, due to cultural rot, would become fouled up beyond recognition.  George Lucas is a typical Hollywood leftist, but in the Star Wars first trilogy he created a work of art that can be viewed as a deep critique of where the culture was going.

1

Breve Neminem Fugit

Holy Family

When God in his mercy determined to accomplish the work of man’s renewal, which same had so many long ages awaited, he appointed and ordained this work on such wise that its very beginning might shew to the world the august spectacle of a Family which was known to be divinely constituted; that therein all men might behold a perfect model, as well of domestic life as of every virtue and pattern of holiness: for such indeed was the Holy Family of Nazareth. There in secret dwelt the Sun of Righteousness, until the time when he should shine out in full splendour in the sight of all nations. There Christ, our God and Saviour, lived with his Virgin Mother, and with that most holy man Joseph, who held to him the place of father. No one can doubt that in this Holy Family was displayed every virtue which can be called forth by an ordinary home life, with its mutual services of charity, its holy intercourse, and its practices of godly piety, since the Holy Family was destined to be a pattern to all others. For that very reason was it established by the merciful designs of Providence, namely, that every Christian, in every walk of life and in every place, might easily, if he would but give heed to it, have before him a motive and a pattern for the good life.

To all fathers of families, Joseph is verily the best model of paternal vigilance and care. In the most holy Virgin Mother of God, mothers may find an excellent example of love, modesty, resignation of spirit, and the perfecting of faith. And in Jesus, who was subject to his parents, the children of the family have a divine pattern of obedience which they can admire, reverence, and imitate. Those who are of noble birth may learn, from this Family of royal blood, how to live simply in times of prosperity, and how to retain their dignity in times of distress. The rich may learn that moral worth is to be more highly esteemed than wealth. Artisans, and all such as are bitterly grieved by the narrow and slender means of their families, if they would but consider the sublime holiness of the members of this domestic fellowship, cannot fail to find some cause for rejoicing in their lot, rather than for being merely dissatisfied with it. In common with the Holy Family, they have to work, and to provide for the daily wants of life. Joseph had to engage in trade, in order to live; even the divine hands laboured at an artisan’s calling. It is not to be wondered at, that the wealthiest men, if truly wise, have been willing to cast away their riches, and to embrace a life of poverty with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

From Breve Neminem Fugit, June 14, 1892, in which Pope Leo XIII instituted the feast of the Holy Family

1

Video Clip Worth Watching: Ralph Kramden’s Christmas Speech

I loved watching re-runs of The Honeymooners when I was a kid.  I appreciated the fact that they were more broke than my family and, like my parents, they met that circumstance with good humor.  In the classic episode above Ralph sold his prized bowling ball to buy a Christmas present for his beloved wife Alice.

 

The late comedian Jackie Gleason, when asked his religion, would always say “Bad Catholic”.  He was once asked by a Paulist priest to appear on his  television program and talk about religion which he did, stating to the priest that Catholicism was strong enough to withstand an advocate even as bad as he was.

Continue Reading

11

A Proclamation

 

The twenty-fifth day of December.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;

the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;

the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;

in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;

the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;

the whole world being at peace,

in the sixth age of the world,

Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,

desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,

being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception,

was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh. Continue Reading

1

It’s a Wonderful Life and the FBI

Hard to believe, but there was an FBI report in 1947 that deemed It’s a Wonderful Life as Communist propaganda:

To: The Director  

D.M. Ladd 

COMMUNIST INFILTRATION OF THE MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY   (RUNNING MEMORANDUM)

There is submitted herewith the running memorandum concerning Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry which has been brought up to date as of May 26, 1947….   With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a “scrooge-type” so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.

>In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters. [redacted] related that if he made this picture portraying the banker, he would have shown this individual to have been following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans. Further, [redacted] stated that the scene wouldn’t have “suffered at all” in portraying the banker as a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown. In summary, [redacted] stated that it was not necessary to make the banker such a mean character and “I would never have done it that way.”   [redacted] recalled that approximately 15 years ago, the picture entitled “The Letter” was made in Russia and was later shown in this country. He recalled that in this Russian picture, an individual who had lost his self-respect as well as that of his friends and neighbors because of drunkenness, was given one last chance to redeem himself by going to the bank to get some money to pay off a debt. The old man was a sympathetic character and was so pleased at his opportunity that he was extremely nervous, inferring he might lose the letter of credit or the money itself. In summary, the old man made the journey of several days duration to the bank and with no mishap until he fell asleep on the homeward journey because of his determination to succeed. On this occasion the package of money dropped out of his pocket. Upon arriving home, the old man was so chagrined he hung himself. The next day someone returned the package of money to his wife saying it had been found. [redacted] draws a parallel of this scene and that of the picture previously discussed, showing that Thomas Mitchell who played the part of the man losing the money in the Capra picture suffered the same consequences as the man in the Russian picture in that Mitchell was too old a man to go out and make money to pay off his debt to the banker. Continue Reading

4

Good Lives On

Chris and Family

      [27] She hath looked well to the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle. [28] Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her. [29] Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all.

Proverbs 31:  27-29

 

The two daughters, Christina and Courtney Bissey, of my secretary, Chris Bissey, who died on August 28 of this year, and who I eulogized in a post which may be read here, just stopped off at my house, wished us a Merry Christmas, and dropped off cookies and other baked goods as a Christmas present.  Chris was famous locally for her Christmas baking of cookies for friends and families, and her daughters are keeping up the tradition.  The good that we do in this life often survives us.  A good message to recall on Christmas eve.

1

Handel’s Advent Messiah: For Unto Us A Son Is Given

The culmination of the Advent portions of Handel’s Advent Messiah.  Go here to listen to the earlier portions.

 

Handel heralds the coming of Christ with the immortal words of Isaiah Chapter 9, verse 6:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Christmas at Bastogne

In 1944 at Christmas the American and German armies were slugging it out in the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive of the War.

Patton’s Third Army rammed its way through to relieve the Americans desperately fighting to defeat the attacking German forces.  The weather was atrocious and Allied air power was useless.  Patton had a prayer written for good weather.  Patton prayed the prayer, along with an extemporaneous one he prayed for good weather on December 23, 1944.  The skies cleared after Patton prayed, and Allied air power was unleashed on the attacking Germans.

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101rst Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle.  On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101rst troops at Bastogne, in attendance.  Afterwards the General listened to German POWS singing Silent Night, and wished them a Merry Christmas.

General McAuliffe issued a memorable Christmas message to his troops: Continue Reading

4

Santa Roosevelt

Santa Roosevelt

Death had to take him in his sleep, for if he was awake there’d have been a fight.

Thomas R. Marshall, Vice President of the United States, on hearing of the death of Theodore Roosevelt

One of his worst enemies once said about Theodore Roosevelt that a man would have to hate him a lot not to like him a little.  It was hard not to admire Roosevelt for his courage, his enthusiasm and his obvious good will.  That last aspect of his character is illustrated by the fact that for many years he would go to Cove School at Oyster Bay dressed as Santa Claus, talk to the kids, and give them presents he had purchased out of his own pocket.  When he did it in 1898, after achieving renown leading his Rough Riders in Cuba, the little boys at the school mobbed their Santa hero!  Continue Reading

2

December 23, 1945: Funeral of General Patton

And I see not in my blindness
What the objects were I wrought,
But as God rules o’er our bickerings
It was through His will I fought.

George S. Patton, Jr.

 

 

 

Fate denied General Patton the death he deserved:  in battle, at the head of his men.  His death was much more prosaic, the result of an automobile collision on December 8, 1945 caused by drunk joyriding GIs.  He spent most of the next 13 days in traction, paralyzed from the neck down.  His verdict on his situation was succinct and characteristically blunt:  “This is a hell of a way to die.”  He died on December 21, 1945 in his sleep.  It is perhaps superfluous to note that Patton met death with calm courage.  At West Point as a cadet he had already discerned the essential reality of death:  “What then of death?  Is not the taps of death but the first call to the reveille of eternal life?”  Per his request he was buried with other Third Army dead in the Luxembourg American Cemetery, the simple white cross above his grave precisely the same that marked the graves of the Christian GIs who had fallen in what Eisenhower had aptly called the Great Crusade. Continue Reading

21

Bear Growls: The Most Dangerous Man in the World

 

 

Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear minces no words:

 

The Bear used to understand what the Catholic Church taught, and what he was required to believe, do and avoid as a Catholic. Now he is told this is “fundamentalism.”

The Bear will speak about Jorge Bergoglio. 
Using his name is not to show the Pope a lack of respect, or still less a rejection of his office, but to acknowledge that the human personality of an elderly gentleman from Argentina has swallowed up the institution of the papacy. We bounce from personal enthusiasm to pet peeve, seemingly at random, loosely linked by a collection of familiar tropes and phrases. Every once in awhile, the irresistible presence of a microphone will elicit an off-the-cuff inanity as connected to Catholic thought as a Marx Brothers movie.
This is what Jorge Bergoglio does. Unfortunately, the world takes his utterances as a Pope’s pronouncement of truth.
Redefining Sin
Anyone who thinks they can shrug off the damage Jorge Bergoglio is doing to the Church does not understand the situation. The Bear has written about the “Social Justice Warrior” examination of conscience distributed at the Bear’s church. It was full of stuff like being environmentally responsible, but contained no real sins. What would be the state of the soul of someone who based his confession on such tripe? This would not have happened before Jorge Bergoglio. Since pewsitters are never instructed about sin in homilies, they will gradually be conditioned to forget sin — real sin — entirely.
And why not? Doesn’t mercy cover everything, anyway? The Bear does not hear about confession from Pope Francis. He tweets constantly about mercy, as if confession were not the ordinary channel of mercy; as if confession no longer mattered in his reign of mercy. (Maureen Mullarkey wrote an excellent piece on the Year of Mercy.)
Medieval Hocus Pocus Out, “Whatever” In
Communion used to be simple. You were a Catholic with no mortal sin. Now Lutherans are encouraged to receive communion, if their Protestant-formed conscience prompts them to. Same with homosexual couples, according to some, uncorrected, prelates. Same with divorced and remarried couples. “A little bread and wine do no harm,” as Jorge Bergoglio is famously reported to have told an Argentine divorcee. And now we are watching this being institutionalized.
What are we to make of transubstantiation now; and how do we understand the Mass? What about the issues of sacrilege and unworthy reception; the meaning of “communion;” or our relationship to the divine Person of Christ? Doctrines don’t get changed, they just gets swallowed up by changes in practice. Medieval hocus pocus that doesn’t meet the people’s needs is quietly abandoned for the new, relevant and inclusive Church.
Jesus Now Optional
Salvation used to require acceptance of the free gift of Jesus Christ’s salvific work through the Church. Now the Church of Jorge Bergoglio has announced that Jews need not accept or even believe in Christ, much less come into the Church to be saved. They are still saved “through” Christ, who is reduced to a mysterious, non-personal salvation process of some sort. So much for the miraculous conversion of the Jew, Alphonse Ratisbonne, with the Miraculous Medal. The appearance to him of the Virgin Mary, approved by the holy see, must have all been a mistake, since she did not tell him, “Alphonse my son, you are a Jew and have no need of my Son.”
An Unbelieving Church for an Unbelieving World
Jorge Bergoglio’s thoughts are not about correcting doctrines he believes to be in error. His thoughts are a solvent that dissolves doctrine entirely, or at least weakens it so that it may be bent and twisted to his will, like one of those horribly misshapen ferula our recent popes have adopted. Sow enough lies and confusion, and there is no need to change doctrine.
Jorge Bergoglio is not a preserver. He is not in continuity. Like the typical leftist he is, he loves only the Church of his imagination, one reformed according to his vision. He is possessed of ambitions that would make Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church, feel like a piker.
Everything is changing, always at the expense of the supernatural. The Church is being re-purposed before our eyes. Without doctrine, without mission, without faith, its eyes are lowered to terrestrial concerns, real and imagined. We are seeing a Church trying to make itself relevant to a world that no longer believes by becoming unbelieving itself. Those who still believe are named the enemy: “fundamentalists.”

Fortunately, when the Bear becomes confused, he recalls that Jorge Bergoglio has not really changed the truth, nor can he. A “fundamentalist” is just a good Catholic, and being one is as essential, simple and challenging as it ever was. The distortions of Bergoglioism must be opposed.

This is why the Bear has taken the frightening course of — let’s be honest — attacking the gentleman from Argentina with everything from sober commentary to outrageous parody. While he respects the papacy, the Bear will use every rhetorical weapon he has to do his tiny, perhaps illusory, part in defending the Church from Jorge Bergoglio, and to encourage the maligned and beleaguered believer.

Because make no mistake. The elderly gentleman from Argentina is the most dangerous man in the world.

Continue Reading

7

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: A Review

 

 

My family and I saw the latest Star Wars on Saturday and I greatly enjoyed it.  It was a fine example of slam bam space opera and a rousing tribute to the best in the original trilogy of films.  Not deep entertainment but quite satisfying.  My review follows below the fold and the usual spoilers warning is in full effect. Continue Reading

11

Magisterium Creep

Rex

“Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: ‘Just as many as you say, Father.’ Then again I asked him: ‘Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said ‘It’s going to rain’, would that be bound to happen?’ ‘Oh, yes, Father.’ ‘But supposing it didn’t?’ He thought a moment and said, “I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.’”

Rex Mottram on Papal Infallibilty

 

Blessed John Cardinal Newman worried at the time of Vatican I that infallibility maximalists would seek to make infallible every jot and tittle said or written by a Pope.  Cardinal Newman meet Bishop Sorondo:

 

Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, the founder of Ignatius Press who obtained his doctorate in theology under Joseph Ratzinger prior to his elevation to the pontificate, told LifeSiteNews, “Neither the pope nor Bishop Sorondo can speak on a matter of science with any binding authority, so to use the word ‘magisterium’ in both cases is equivocal at best, and ignorant in any case.” Fr. Fessio added, “To equate a papal position on abortion with a position on global warming is worse than wrong; it is an embarrassment for the Church.”

The conference, “In Dialogue with Laudato Si’: Can Free Markets Help Us Care for Our Common Home?” was held at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross with over 200 attendees including members of the media, professors, and students of the Pontifical Universities.

The controversy was sparked when in his address Bishop Sorondo spoke of “global warming” saying that in Laudato Si “for the first time in the Magisterium” Pope Francis “denounces the scientifically identifiable causes of this evil, declaring that: ‘a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases released mainly as a result of human activity.’” He repeated the point later, saying, “faith and reason, philosophical knowledge and scientific knowledge, are brought together for the first time in the pontifical Magisterium in Laudato Si’.”

These points were contradicted in the presentation by Acton Institute founder and President Father Robert Sirico who said it is “important to underscore the distinction between the theological dimension of Laudato si’ and its empirical, scientific, and economic claims.” He explained, “The Church does not claim to speak with the same authority on matters of economics and science… as it does when pronouncing on matters of faith and morals.”

Quoting the Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine to support his point, Fr. Sirico said: “Christ did not bequeath to the Church a mission in the political, economic or social order; the purpose he assigned to her was a religious one.  . . . This means that the Church does not intervene in technical questions with her social doctrine, nor does she propose or establish systems or models of social organization. This is not part of the mission entrusted to her by Christ” (CCSD 68). Continue Reading

2

Messianic Prophecies: Zechariah 14: 1-5

 

Finishing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, a series which we began in Advent 2011 and continued in 2102, 2013 and 2014, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here , here here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here,   here, here here, here, and here we come to Zechariah 14: 1-5:

[1] Behold the days of the Lord shall come, and thy spoils shall be divided in the midst of thee. [2] And I will gather all nations to Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken, and the houses shall be rifled, and the women shall be defiled: and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the rest of the people shall not be taken away out of the city. [3] Then the Lord shall go forth, and shall fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. [4] And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is over against Jerusalem toward the east: and the mount of Olives shall be divided in the midst thereof to the east, and to the west with a very great opening, and half of the mountain shall be separated to the north, and half thereof to the south. [5] And you shall flee to the valley of those mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall be joined even to the next, and you shall flee as you fled from the face of the earthquake in the days of Ozias king of Juda: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with him.

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem saw in this passage a prophecy of the entry of Christ into Jerusalem: Continue Reading

20

The Creed as Currently Understood

 

Elliot Bougis at FideCogitActio has drafted a new Creed for the Age of Francis:

 

The Nicercene Creed

I [want to] believe in one God,
the Father [pretty much] almighty,
[evolutionary] maker of heaven and earth,
of [I guess] all things visible and invisible.

I [recognize that Christians prefer to] believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the [not necessarily] Only Begotten Son of God,
born [of the early Christian consciousness] of the Father before all ages.
God [or guru] from God, Light [or role model] from Light,
true God [among others] from true God,
begotten, not [entirely] made [up], [perhaps] consubstantial with the Father;
through him [or her] all things were made [unless you find that problematic].
For us men [and women and pets and rain forests] and for our salvation [or mere consideration]
he [claimed that he] came down from heaven,
and by [what we’ll generously agree to call] the Holy Spirit was incarnate [in Christian discourse] of the [putatively] Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was [allegedly] crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death [as befits any false Jewish prophet] and was buried,
and [according to Christians, at least,] rose again on the third day
in accordance with the [passages of the] Scriptures [that don’t offend Jews].
He [was memorialized as having] ascended into heaven
and is [best depicted in classical art as being] seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory [as the long-expected Jewish Messiah and in Muhammad’s train]
to [non-judgmentally] judge the living and the dead [who are already in Heaven if they were good at their own religion or even irreligion]
and his kingdom [among multiple other kingdoms] will [most likely] have no end.

[Oh, yeah, and] I believe in the Holy Spirit, the [Christian] Lord, the giver of life [and of circumcision],
who proceeds from [what Christians refer to as] the [“]Father[“] and the [“]Son[“],
who with [or perhaps without] the [“]Father[“] and the [“]Son[“] is adored and glorified [solely by Christians],
who has spoken [of a still-promised Jewish Messiah] through the [interreligiously sanitized] prophets.

I [am, I guess, willing to] believe in [at least] one, [generally] holy, catholic [but not Roman Catholic] and apostolic [but not anti-Judaic] Church.
I [don’t mind if others] confess one Baptism [or circumcision or lifetime of pagan piety] for the forgiveness of sins [if such there be]
and I look forward to the resurrection [or at least recollection] of the dead
and the life[style] of the [religiously pluralistic] world to come.
Amen[?] Continue Reading

9

Priests and Every Day Heroism

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Just got back from Mass.  Our priest is away and so we had an elderly Monsignor saying Mass.  After our Deacon gave the homily, the Monsignor collapsed.  As the congregation said prayers, medically trained members of the congregation lept to assist him and an ambulance was called.  After the ambulance arrived it took several minutes for the Monsignor to regain his strength.  The ambulance team wanted to whisk him away to the hospital.  The Monsignor would have none of that.  He had come to say Mass, and that he was going to do, come what may to him.  With the ambulance team standing nearby, we had an abbreviated Mass, going straight to the consecration.  After the Eucharist, the Monsignor gave the final blessing and walked out with some assistance, promising to go to the hospital to be examined.  He received a round of applause, which I joined in, something I usually do not do, since I find applause in most circumstances out of place in a Church, but I found it a proper tribute on this occasion. Continue Reading

4

Christ as the Greatest Black Swan: Explaining the Unexplainable

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The fourth and final part of our Advent look at Jesus as the greatest Black Swan event in human history.  Go here to read part one, here to read part two and here to read part three.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his 2007 book The Black Swan, took a look at the impact of events in history for which our prior experiences give us no inkling.  Taleb states three requirements for a Black Swan Event:

First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme ‘impact’. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

The all important question about Christ is the one He asked.  Who do you say that I am?  In trying to make sense of Christ and his ever present impact upon this world, that is the question that is ever addressed.

A popular answer among some atheists is that Christ never existed.  This has always been a minority position since the evidence for the historicity of Christ is so overwhelming, especially for a figure who lived in obscurity.  Written accounts by His followers were drafted within decades after His death.  Non-Christian accounts, notably Tacitus, mention Christ.  His followers in Rome are persecuted within thirty years after His death.  Attempts to get around all this involve large amounts of conspiracy theories, ignoring inconvenient facts and academic hand-waving.  Regarding Christ as a myth may satisfy a semi-educated atheist, but it simply is not an intellectually honest position. Continue Reading

13

Washington Refuses to be Beaten

 

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Each year, as Christmas is approaching, I think of a Christmas long ago in 1776.  The year in which we declared our independence from Great Britain was a year of military disaster for the United States.  Washington and his troops had been beaten time after time, and as the end of the year approached the Revolution seemed to be dying.  The British controlled New York, the largest city in the colonies and the major port.  New Jersey had been conquered.  The Continental Congress was in flight from Philadelphia, in expectation that the British would next move on that city.  Washington’s army had been reduced to around 5,000 ill-clad and ill-fed poorly trained troops, vastly outnumbered by their British adversaries and their Hessian mercenaries, all well-trained, well equipped, well clad and well fed.  Most of the enlistments of Washington’s troops would be up by the end of the year, and few of them seemed likely to re-enlist.  Defeat seemed all but inevitable to all but Washington.  In this hour of doom, he rallied his troops and launched the Trenton-Princeton campaign, which restored the morale of his Army, liberated much of New Jersey, and put new heart into American patriots everywhere.  Washington had worked a military miracle.

The feat is all the more impressive, in that privately Washington was well-aware of the odds against him, and feared that defeat was probably likely.  We see that in two letters he wrote on December 10 and 17, 1776, to his nephew Lund Washington, who ran Mount Vernon in his absence:

Dear Lund:

    * * * * *

    I wish to Heaven it was in my power to give you a more favorable account of our situation than it is. Our numbers, quite inadequate to the task of opposing that part of the army under the command of General Howe, being reduced by sickness desertion, and political deaths (on or before the first instant, and having no assistance from the militia), were obliged to retire before the enemy, who were perfectly well informed of our situation, till we came to this place, where I have no idea of being able to make a stand, as my numbers, till joined by the Philadelphia militia, did not exceed three thousand men fit for duty. Now we may be about five thousand to oppose Howe’s whole army, that part of it excepted which sailed under the command of Gen. Clinton. I tremble for Philadelphia. Nothing, in my opinion, but Gen. Lee’s speedy arrival, who has been long expected, though still at a distance (with about three thousand men), can save it. We have brought over and destroyed all the boats we could lay our hands on upon the Jersey shore for many miles above and below this place; but it is next to impossible to guard a shore for sixty miles, with less than half the enemy’s numbers; when by force or strategem they may suddenly attempt a passage in many different places. At present they are encamped or quartered along the other shore above and below us (rather this place, for we are obliged to keep a face towards them) for fifteen miles. *** Continue Reading

7

PopeWatch: Republican Rite

 

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

 

Fox News Channel CEO Roger Ailes has petitioned the Holy See for approval of a new Republican Rite of the Catholic Church, sources are confirming.

The Rite, which would be under the direct jurisdiction of the Primate of the Republican Party, His Holiness Patriarch Donald John Trump I, would be a self-governing church in, more or less, full communion with the Pope.

“As Patriarch and successor to Ronald Reagan, His Most Divine All-Holiness and Primus Inter Pares of the Grand Old Party, will have direct political and canonical authority over all regions within the walled country of the United States,” Ailes announced. “We ask approval of the Holy See, that we can once and for all make official our standing as the official party of the Vatican in the United States.”

Ailes went on to announce that seat of the “Holy Mother Party” would be located in the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. He also announced that plans were already in place for the formation of a new Code of Canons for the rite, which would include sections titled, How To Handle Syrians That Wish To Enter the Rite, Certain Special Procedures With Regards To Carly Fiorina’s Face, and Ecumenism And How To Bomb The Shit Out Of Other Rites.

At press time, a spokesman for Trump says that plans are underway for a Jubilee Year, which would commence with ceremonious Closing of the Holy Door to pilgrims. Continue Reading

5

Star Wars-Part 375!

 

Well at least that is the way I felt about the series half-way through the mid-point of the misbegotten second trilogy.  Leaving aside the fact that it created the most annoying fictional character, runner up Dobby the House Elf, Steppin Fetchit Jar Jar Binks in the past half century, (Oh Dobby, Jar Jar!   The woodchipper is jammed again.   Could you please use your remaining hands to unjam it once more?), the writing was terrible, the plots puerile and the acting very bad.  A major disappointment for me after the magic of the first trilogy.

Tomorrow the family will be picking up my son at the train station, fresh from the finals of his third semester in law school, eat a nice meal and then go to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  A review will doubtless follow unless I am arrested for assaulting someone attending the film dressed as Jar Jar.  For your amusement, here is the classic parody of the series from 1978, Hardware Wars: Continue Reading

19

PopeWatch: Operation Storm Heaven

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Pope Francis is not a big fan of either the Rosary  nor Raymond Cardinal Burke, so PopeWatch can imagine what he thinks of Operation Storm Heaven:

 

The campaign is an initiative of Catholic Action for Faith and Family and aims to rally one million Catholics to pray the rosary on the first day of each month throughout the year. The specific intentions set forth by the Campaign under the guidance of Cardinal Burke will be united with the personal ones of all members. Intentions include: for Light of Truth to shine clearly in the Church, for peace to reign in the hearts of the Faithful and for the private intentions of those who participate in the campaign by praying the Rosary in solidarity with other participants around the world.

“The campaign is a response to so much evil present in the world that is challenging the faith of many people and leaving them discouraged,” stated Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family and director of the campaign.

“Politics alone and the rhetoric of men and women cannot solve the moral crisis facing America and the world. Above all we need Divine assistance,” McKenna continued. “What better way to defeat the evils of abortion, euthanasia, murder, homosexual marriage, terrorism and so many other evils in our world than by uniting a spiritual army across many continents, ‘Rosary Warriors,’ to besiege Heaven with prayer?” said McKenna.

In a message to the supporters Cardinal Burke wrote: “The first temptation Satan uses to break us down is discouragement. This temptation is only an illusion, for Christ alive within us always gives us courage, even in the most trying of times. In such times, as today, we must pray more than ever, especially in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and all throughout the day. Be courageous, my beloved brothers and sisters! Stand fast with sure Hope! Let us together, storm Heaven with steadfast prayer, through Operation Storm Heaven…”

On the first day of each month Cardinal Burke will join the campaign members in spirit by celebrating a Mass and praying a Rosary for the designated intentions. Members of the hierarchy and clergy are also encouraged to join and pledge their Mass intentions and rosaries.

 

11

December 18, 1982: Bliss Begins

 

My bride and I were married 33 years ago today at Saint Mary’s in Paris, Illinois, the parish church of my youth.  It was an unusual spring like day, the temperature reaching seventy.  Our priest was “Fighting Father O’Hara” as I privately nick-named him.  A crusty old man, he also had considerable Irish charm when he wished to use it, and he was kindness incarnate in the instruction he gave my Methodist bride prior to our marriage.  She had attended Mass with me since our engagement in May of 1982 and Father O’Hara helped set the stage for her joining the Church with his passion for the Faith, for which he would have gladly died any number of deaths.

My Mom supervised the reception and was in her glory.  Little did I know that the cancer that would take her life on Easter Sunday 1984 had reappeared, she and my Dad not wanting to mar the day with bad news.  My Dad died in 1991, a week prior to my bride and I learning she was pregnant with our twins.  My father-in-law, who joined the Navy at 17 after Pearl Harbor, died in 1997.  My mother-in-law survives and we hope to see her at Christmas.  Both couples gave great examples of loving life long marriages, and the success of my marriage I attribute to the grace of God, my ever patient bride and them. Continue Reading

10

Home, With Propaganda, For the Holidays

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This is beyond parody.  Harvard decided that it would be a grand idea to give students talking points for the holidays so that they could follow the politically correct line on various topics.

 

Harvard has advised students to lecture their non-Ivy-League relatives on liberal values in a bizarre set of holiday placemats to take home over Christmas.

The laminated cards raise some likely hot topics that lesser-educated family members may raise at the dinner table, then offers a suggested response. 

Covering such complex issues as police brutality, racial divisions, and the Syrian war, one of the sections tells students to say: ‘Racial justice includes welcoming Syrian refugees.’ 

 

One question to be braced for is: ‘Why are black students complaining? Shouldn’t they be happy to be in college?’

In response, the worldly scholars should ‘calmly’ explain: ‘When I hear students expressing their experiences on campus I don’t hear complaining.’

Students are also told what side to take on the issue of murdered black teenager Tamir Rice in 2014 – an issue which continues to divide the country. 

To make it through the spate of pesky questions, Harvard advised, students should ‘breathe’ and ‘listen mindfully’. 

After a furor was raised about it, Harvard made “a sorry we were caught” response:

Thomas Dingman, dean of freshmen, and Stephen Lassoed, dean of student life, said in a letter to students on Wednesday: ‘We write to acknowledge that the placemat distributed in some of your dining halls this week failed to account for the many viewpoints that exist on our campus on some of the most complex issues we confront as a community and society today.

‘Our goal was to provide a framework for you to engage in conversations with peers and family members as you return home for the winter break, however, it was not effectively presented and it ultimately caused confusion in our community.’ Continue Reading

11

Not-So-Lying Nativity Scene

Over at Catholic Vote, they’re responding to the inevitable Atlantic “look at me!” inflammatory article; this one is “Your Christmas Nativity Scene is a Lie.”

He finally does come to something that is admittedly an inaccuracy, and here we seem to arrive at what really concerns him. He notes that most American nativity scenes depict the Holy Family as white, although they certainly were not Europeans.

Merritt has a point here: a depiction of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as European-looking is certainly factually wrong. I think, however, that he makes this into more of a problem than it really is. He fears that such depictions reinforce racism by suggesting that lightness is associated with what is good and darkness with what is bad.


The point was to depict Jesus as a human being, and the artist defaulted to depicting him as the kind of human being with which the artist was most familiar.

If it’s good enough for Mary, it’s probably good enough for the whole family– just last night I was taking pictures of some of the depictions of apparitions on display at the local Catholic school. Pretty sure that a first-century Middle Eastern Jew didn’t look Vietnamese, either.

The problem only comes up if the change is made to make a bad point– I have heard of artists that change Jesus specifically to ‘claim’ Him, as opposed to the idea that He is claiming us.

68

PopeWatch: Annulments: The Fix is In

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Effectively the Pope with his “reform” of the annulment process has created Catholic Divorce, thereby rendering the words of Christ about marriage null and void.  A harsh judgment?  Let’s take a look at the facts:

1. The Pope has made annulments free, which mean that all Catholics get to pay for them.  This is obviously a come on for more people to go through the process.

2.  Revoking the rule established by John Paul II, a decree of nullity can now be granted on grounds not pled by the party seeking a nullity.  What this means is that the tribunal will now be hunting for reasons to render the marriage null, turning the process on its head.

3.  The speeded up process is obviously intended to turn the process into a nullity granting machine.  Making the local bishop the judge, subject to inevitable pressure from the Vatican, ensures this.  Dropping automatic appeals is another sign of what is desired.  It would take a very dense bishop, or a very courageous one, not to begin rubber stamping decrees of nullity.

4.  The new laws are replete with phrases like  “intended precisely to show the Church’s closeness to wounded families, desiring that the many that experience matrimonial failure are reached by Christ’s healing work through ecclesiastical structures.” which clearly indicates the result desired.  The fix is in. Continue Reading

5

Reality Always Wins

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One of the recurring themes of this blog is that reality always prevails in the end. Professor Anthony Esolen, who has commented here, has a brilliant post at Crisis on this theme:

 

It may be that all of the mad errors of the last hundred years have risen from one first and terrible error: that of refusing to honor reality, including human reality, as it is. In generations past, if you did not honor reality, you paid for it swiftly and severely. Try to plant strawberries in a desert, or fig trees in a swamp, and your belly will tell you that you have been a fool, even if your mind is stubborn and slow to admit it. Send your women out with the oxen and the plow, the cross-cut saw and the mattock, while your boys do the laundry and the mending, and the very stones will testify to your stupidity. But our wealth and sophisticated technology are a great buffer between us and those stones. We can seem to ourselves, for a while, to get away with ignoring the real.

Not that we actually do get away with it. Ideologies treat man as if he could be pressed into any shape, like molten plastic poured into a form. Stalin tried his hand at the human extruding machine, ignoring the ordinary farmer’s love for the land to which he and his forebears had given their sweat and their souls. The result was to turn one of the great breadbaskets of the world, the Ukraine, into barrens, while six million people died—not before some of them had sunk below the beast and eaten their own dead. Mao tried his hand at the human extruding machine, ignoring the ordinary man’s piety towards his ancestors and their ways, and the result was a mass destruction of culture, and sixty million people dead.

These are flagrant sinners against God and the reality he made. But the murderer of only one man is a murderer all the same, and more pleasant or vacuous sinners against reality are still sinners and still work harm. In the aggregate they can destroy every bit as much as Stalin and Mao did. Abortion of course is one obvious example of a refusal to look at reality. The child-making act has as its natural and foreseeable end the making of a child. We do know this, just as we know that men should revere their parents and grandparents, and that people who have lived on a tract of land for a hundred years love it and will tend it more carefully than a cadre of bureaucrats could ever imagine. We simply pretend that we do not know it. We pretend that when a man and a woman do the child-making thing, and they make a child, it can strike them as an utter surprise, a bolt from the blue. If you are walking beside a row of high-rise row houses, and you are struck by a piano falling from a great height, that is a surprise, that is an unnerving accident. Not the other.

 

But, having stiffed the real and embraced a fantasy, here the ideology of sexual liberation, having played at being husband and wife without being husband and wife, we claim all at once to be Surprised by Baby, Dismayed by Baby, Utterly Undone by Baby, and, hence, we want Baby out of the way. To have it out of the way, we have to plunge ourselves even deeper into the unreal. We have to pretend that the baby is not human, when we know, of course, that it is, and that it is not alive, when we know that if it were dead, it would be called a miscarriage, and no moral problem would arise. We have to cleave our minds in half to have our lives of license whole.

So it is that Planned Parenthood, which has never helped any woman to become a parent, sells as human body parts the members of the human beings they have killed under the fiction that they were not human at all, calling it “medical care” when nothing is remediated. So also the Pill, destructive of the common good and (like all synthetic growth hormones) deleterious to the health of the women who use it, is called “medical care,” when no disease is cured, and no limb or organ is restored to its normal and natural function; rather, its purpose is to thwart the natural function of the reproductive system, even at the cost of the woman’s health. It is thus not like an inoculation to protect you against a communicable disease. It is like deliberately putting a joint out of socket. Continue Reading

1

Video Clip Worth Watching: Brother Orchid Confesses

Brother Superior: When the heart speaks, Brother Orchid, other hearts must listen.

 

A brilliant scene from a brilliant movie, Edward G. Robinson as Brother Orchid takes a large step in his gradual transformation from being a mobster disguising himself as a monk into a real monk.  Although not a sacramental confession, the scene has always struck me as an example of the shame and redemption that a good confession brings to a sincere penitent.  After the scene Brother Orchid is forgiven, the “Brother Superior” wryly admitting that as a young monk he had been guilty of the same sin of paying a child to do some of his work at the monastery.  Go here to read about Brother Orchid (1940) an astonishingly moving screwball-comedy-film noir gangster-western-religious flick that makes great Advent viewing as it illustrates the impact of the grace of God on the most unlikely of souls.

23

PopeWatch: Transparency

 

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One of the Pope’s favorite buzz words is transparency.  I wonder what he thinks of this action of one of his favorites:

 

The internet journalist George Neumayr related a troubling (but typical) incident that occurred today during a book-signing conducted by Cardinal Wuerl at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, located on the campus of Catholic University of America in Washington DC.  In his own words from his Facebook wall:

I attended the publicly advertised but sparsely populated event as a member of the press. I showed up in a suit and tie. I stood quietly near the table at which Wuerl was going to sign books. He arrived and I politely shook his hand. He gave me a serpentine grin and moved towards the table. A few moments later two police officers arrived and said to me that the Basilica bookstore was “private property” and that the Church wanted me “escorted off the property.”
Why would Cardinal Wuerl have a member of the press removed from Church property by the police during a book signing? Because I have been investigating Wuerl’s corrupt use of the faithful’s money. He has been furtively using donations to finance a multimillionaire penthouse on Embassy Row. His press secretary has denied every one of my requests for an interview and so I have sought to interview Wuerl and priests with whom he has lived at the penthouse by typical journalistic means. Outrageously, Wuerl has used my mere reporting as a pretext to call the police on me. This is the “transparent,” “accessible,” and “accountable” Church of Pope Francis? May God help us all.
In all of my years of reporting, I have never seen a churchman as deviously insular and elitist as Wuerl. On the hard-earned donations of the faithful, he has lived like a Borgia-era cardinal, indulging his affluent tastes while eschewing his flock and ignoring or abusing his priests. His exploitation of the faithful’s funds is made even more gross by his subversive heterodoxy, on display at the recent Synod on the Family and in his defense of Communion for pro-abortion pols and other checkered Catholics. He takes the faithful’s money to bankroll his ecclesiastical perks while seeking to separate those faithful from the orthodox teachings of the Church.

Continue Reading

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Video Clip Worth Watching: Battle of the Bulge Sermon

A film clip from Battleground (1949), a rousing tribute to the heroic stand of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne at Christmas 1944, which helped turn the tide of the Battle of the Bulge. Seventy-one years ago on December 16, 1944 the Germans launched their last desperate offensive to turn defeat into victory.   The sermon helps explain to the men why they are there, and why the sacrifices they were being called upon to make were important and necessary.

We should always be mindful of the men and women in our military who are far from their families today,  destined to celebrate Christmas often in dangerous situations.  May God bless them and keep them, and may we always remember the sacrifices they make for us.

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Nauseating

Saint Judas Iscariot

Patron “saint” of Turncoats.

As faithful readers of this blog know I have little use for Michael Voris.  However, I found this kiss and tell post by one of his former employees nauseating:

I was an ardent defender of the Truth, and I viciously attacked anyone who dared question someone like my main hero, Michael Voris.

Four years of living my Catholic faith like that was dispelled in four months. And how did that happen? It’s quite simple, really.

I worked at Church Militant.

It all started on a very exciting June day. I had gotten the call that I was one of the four men accepted into the one year internship at Church Militant known as the Pause Program. It was my dream come true: I was going to meet my hero and work under him. I prostrated on the ground in my room and thanked God sincerely for giving me such a gift.

I flew from home, a young 18 year old homeschool graduate afraid to live on his own, but still incredibly excited about what I was going to do. I landed in the airport, and I was greeted by Michael Voris and the three men I would be undertaking this year with. It was a surreal moment that will always stick in my mind.

It was decided that I would be a staff writer in news due to my skill at writing. I was very excited to write news, and I was very pleased to see my articles published. I was also pleased to see I was well liked, and had even been given the nickname “Smiles and Hugs” because I constantly smiled and frequently hugged people.

But unfortunately, two weeks in I was given an article that would start me on a life-changing course.

I was told to write an article on Cardinal Dolan and his Making All Things New pastoral initiative. In it, many dying parishes were being closed down to save the Archdiocese of New York money. I added several quotes from distraught and sad parishioners, as the angle was clearly to portray Cardinal Dolan as a bad person. However, I made a mistake in the writing of it: I added a quote from Dolan saying how sorry he was for having to close down the parishes, and that he felt for the parishioners who were losing their parish communities.

I was told by my editor that overall the article was good, but the quote was taken out. When I asked why, I was given a shocking answer: “It made him look good, and that’s not what we want.”

I stared for a moment in shock, nodded my head, and then walked away, disillusioned by what I had just heard.

It was at this moment that I began questioning all that I had done and believed in for four years. Two weeks into my dream, and I was having a crisis; not of faith, but of how to live that faith. Deep with thoughts of doubt and regret, I asked for my name to be taken off the article.

A week after this, I began questioning the purpose of releasing the information about clerical abuses (and supposed abuses) and bashing clergy for pastoral decisions in the first place. What was it accomplishing other than sowing deep-seated division in the Church? None of our articles to my knowledge had ever resulted in the punishment of a priest or bishop.

And why were we telling laypeople about these things in the first place? They didn’t have the authority to take care of the issue. Why weren’t we contacting bishops directly to inform them of things they are unaware of in their dioceses? Why was our immediate impulse to tell the whole world rather than to tell the people who could actually take care of the issue?

My head continued to swim with all these questions, and the more I questioned what we did, the less visibly loyal I became in the office. I began openly questioning why we were going to publish this or that information, and what good it would do, in the end. Needless to say, this was not appreciated.

After a little over two months of working there, my attitude and perspective had changed almost completely. I had come to believe that the public bashing (not to be confused with occasional respectful disagreement) of a cleric is immoral. I had become an avid fan of Bishop Robert Barron (seen as nothing less than an enemy of the truth at Church Militant,) and I had decided that perhaps bishops and cardinals who weren’t completely orthodox weren’t terrible people after all. Despite theological issues, I believed they ultimately had good intentions. This was a breakthrough in my mindset which had been taught by Church Militant to believe these men were literally evil and intentionally trying to destroy the Church.

My demeanor changed at this point as well. Through the direction of a good and holy priest, I had come to believe that in the life of the Christian, it is spiritually healthier and in fact more effective in evangelization to have a general attitude of gentleness and serenity, especially towards those who disagree with you. “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” he reminded me, using Saint Phillip Neri as an example, and I took his instruction to heart.

It wasn’t long before my questioning and changed outlook on life and the Church was noticed by Michael. Word had gotten to him that I was openly questioning our methods, and at times even asked not to do certain assignments. All of this came to a head in early October.

I had been assigned to do what we called Synod Profiles: background information on the “bad guys” as my coworkers termed them, that would become videos exposing their vile heterodox agenda. I was given eight names, and I began writing them with an uneasy and conflicted conscience. Through the counsel of the priest I mentioned, I had decided not to openly disobey, but rather to give balanced backgrounds on these bishops, reporting the good as well as the bad.

After completing and sending them in, it became apparent that my work was less than satisfactory. One friend mocked my policy of fairness and said my Profiles could be broken down into this (somewhat paraphrased) synopsis: “This Bishop believes this incorrect thing and did this bad thing, and his favorite color is purple and he loves bunnies.”

After turning them in, I was informed I was going to be given more Profiles to do. I was distraught. I had been unable to sleep well for the entire month I had been writing those transcripts due to stress of constant inner moral conflict, and I wanted out. I pulled Michael aside and begged him to get me out of the project. He accepted my request, but took note of how I said I couldn’t continue doing them “in good conscience.” After pressing me on the issue, he learned that I had developed a belief that perhaps what the apostolate did wasn’t good for the Church.

Thinking nothing of it and reveling in my conscience’s emancipation from the project, I went about the rest of the week very happily. However, the following week, I was suddenly visited by Michael and pulled from my work to speak with him in his office.

At this point I had forgotten about the Profiles already, and I walked in without concern or worry, not knowing why he wanted to speak with me. Michael sat down with me very casually, and began to probe me in my discernment. He asked me why I thought God was calling me towards the priesthood. After answering, he told me the reason he asked is because I was displaying a lack of understanding of the Church crisis, and that he was greatly concerned for my possible priesthood as a consequence.

He began to tell me stories and gave me future scenarios of my life wherein my bishop punishes me unjustly for following Church teaching, questioning what I would do in this or that scenario. He told me it had been reported to him that I had developed a reputation in my office for being a, quote, “Church of Nice Apologist,” and that I needed to cease watching all Bishop Barron videos immediately.

To me, what was most distressing was when he said, “Miles, you’re a sweet and gentle guy, but you need to change your personality and become aggressive for the sake of the Church.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Reformation II

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You can learn a lot about a Pontificate from what a Pope doesn’t talk about as well as what he does talk about.  I have never heard the Pope say a word about the ongoing melt down of the Catholic Church in Germany where most of the clergy seem eager to “celebrate” Reformation I by staging Reformation II.  Rorate Caeli gives us an example of what is going on in Germany:

From Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

Count zu Eltz said that there had been a ministry to homosexuals for some time already. But with the new offer, the Church would be institutionally committing herself to it. It complements the project “Gay and Catholic“ which is located in Gallus at the Church of Maria Hilf and celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. Wucherpfennig paid tribute to the new project as a sign “that homosexuals have their place in the Church, also as critical members“. Wucherpfennig, who is the rector of Sankt Georgen Philosophical-Theological College, and Weidemann, the provincial superior of the Pallottines in Limburg, have experience in the care of those living a same-sex lifestyle. Topics are fidelity and commitment, financial security in old age and difficulties of relatives, when a family member comes out as homosexual, says Weidemann. It was important to encounter homosexuals in an open and appreciative manner, says Count zu Eltz. Many had already turned their backs on the Church.

Continue Reading

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Messianic Prophecies: 1 Chronicles 16: 8-33

 

 

Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, a series which we began in Advent 2011 and continued in 2102, 2013 and 2014, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here , here here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here,   here, here here, and here, we come to 1 Chronicles 16:  8-33:

 

 

[8] Praise ye the Lord, and call upon his name: make known his doings among the nations. [9] Sing to him, yea, sing praises to him: and relate all his wondrous works. [10] Praise ye his holy name: let the heart I of them rejoice, that seek the Lord.

[11] Seek ye the Lord, and his power: seek ye his face evermore. [12] Remember his wonderful works, which he hath done: his signs, and the judgments of his mouth. [13] O ye seed of Israel his servants, ye children of Jacob his chosen. [14] He is the Lord our God: his judgments are in all the earth. [15] Remember for ever his covenant: the word, which he commanded to a thousand generations.

[16] The covenant which he made with Abraham: and his oath to Isaac. [17] And he appointed the same to Jacob for a precept: and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: [18] Saying: To thee will I give the land of Chanaan: the lot of your inheritance. [19] When they were but a small number: very few and sojourners in it. [20] And they passed from nation to nation: and from a kingdom to another people.

[21] He suffered no man to do them wrong: and reproved kings for their sake. [22] Touch not my anointed: and do no evil to my prophets. [23] Sing ye to the Lord, all the earth: shew forth from day to day his salvation. [24] Declare his glory among the Gentiles: his wonders among all people. [25] For the Lord is great and exceedingly to be praised: and he is to be feared above all gods.

[26] For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. [27] Praise and magnificence are before him: strength and joy in his place. [28] Bring ye to the Lord, O ye families of the nations: bring ye to the Lord glory and empire. [29] Give to the Lord glory to his name, bring up sacrifice, and come ye in his sight: and adore the Lord in holy becomingness. [30] Let all the earth be moved at his presence: for he hath founded the world immoveable.

[31] Let the heavens rejoice, and the earth be glad: and let them say among the nations: The Lord hath reigned. [32] Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all things that are in them. [33] Then shall the trees of the wood give praise before the Lord: because he is come to judge the earth.

Saint Justin Martyr says of this passage: Continue Reading

8

Bad Science and Worse Religion

 

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Father George Rutler explains why the Saint Peter’s light show was bad science and bad religion walking hand in hand:

There are legitimate ways to consider the significance of carbon emissions in relation to variations in solar activity, changes in the terrestrial orbit and axis, fluctuations in gamma ray activity, and tectonic shifts, and the solid fact that Earth has been warmer than it is now in 7,000 of the last 10,000 years, but hypotheses should not be pronounced as conclusions. And if the Church’s “voice crying in the desert” is to be prophetic, it should not cry wolf. Nor should the Church allow herself to be appropriated by political elites, business interests, and what Santillana in the instance of the Renaissance called “vested academic interests,” whose tendency is to exploit benevolent, if emotive, environmentalists.

So it was perplexing that on the recent Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the feast itself was upstaged by an unprecedented light show cast on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica, sponsored by the World Bank Group, an environmental foundation called Okeanos, and Vulcan, Inc., a Seattle-based private company dedicated to exposing “sins against the climate.” Sins? These interests may have good intentions, but the parameters of banking, business and academe do not include imputing sin. There may be offenses and even crimes against the balance of the ecosystem, but not sins, unless science really has become a religion. The irony is that many who impute sins to those who disrupt the balance of nature, also defend and promote unnatural acts among humans. Although the Immaculate Conception was neglected by the New Age light show with its flying birds and leaping porpoises, it is consoling to remember that the Virgin Mary was completely free of sins against the climate, and departed this world without leaving any carbon footprint.

In the saga of environmentalism, the eleventh century Anglo-Scandinavian King Canute is often mistakenly evoked as a symbol of arrogance for setting his throne up on an English beach, possibly at Westminster or West Sussex or Southampton, and ordering the tides to roll back. The details are vague,  but the real point of the story is that Canute deliberately choreographed that drama to instruct his flattering courtiers in the limits of earthly power against the seas and skies. They had preened that their king could slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. The tides did not withdraw, the king and his court got wet and Canute declared: “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.”  It was a warning for scientists flattered by clerics, and clerics flattered by scientists. King Canute’s performance was better than any flamboyant light show. Better still, King Canute then placed his crown on the great crucifix in Winchester Cathedral and never wore it again.  In matters of speculative science, it would be edifying to see the members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the directors of the World Bank Group, corporate executives, and academics, do the same. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Bear Growls: Sorry Saint Paul

 

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One of the more pernicious pathologies within the Church today is an ecumenism that neuters the command of Christ to the Church to “make ye disciples of all the nations”.  Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear takes a look at a dispiriting recent example:
The Vatican has just released a new document assuring everyone that it has no mission to the Jews.

This is not going to be politically correct. You have been warned.

The need to examine the Vatican’s proof-text (Romans 11:29) in context required a detailed examination of Paul’s clear teaching on the issue. That will be published in Part 2.

But for now, St. Paul wrote, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9 RSV.)

Keeping in mind St. Paul’s double anathema, read what he wrote about the salvation of Jews:

We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, 16 yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.

(Galatians 2:15-16 RSV.)

Now, since a different gospel is preached because of interfaith relations, one may ask which is the more important of the two. It is not surprising to hear the Vatican say it has no mission to the Jews, and that Jews may or may not have a special Jew way to salvation.

If you want the photo op with the rabbi at the press conference, the only thing you have to bargain with is the truth. Today, interfaith relations are so important they have eclipsed the truth. In addition, Pope Francis has worked closely with an Argentinian Rabbi, Abraham Skorka, with whom he authored a book, “On Heaven and Earth.” We all know how Jorge Bergoglio’s personal connections influence Church policies.

The Protestants say Catholics believe the teachings of men. The Bear has to concede them the point too  often. The Bear is just an ursine mammal, but he would think twice about advocating a scheme in which knowing rejection of Jesus Christ was a routine method of salvation.

What does it really say about the need to be Christian — no, Catholic — to be saved, or, rather, our leaders’ opinions on that? We have often discovered clues that the Church now believes in universalism, that all persons are saved and Hell is empty. Bad ideas have consequences in the Church, and we should be alert for their expressions. One is this: if everyone is saved, religious differences become unimportant.

Now the Vatican repeats their favorite phrase on this issue: “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” Of course He didn’t revoke them. They got their Davidic dynasty forever, and they got their Messiah, in Whom the Law was completed. Elijah prepared his way in the person of John the Baptist, and Moses and Elijah — the Law and the Prophets — met with Jesus during the Transfiguration. Not to mention over 300 Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus’ life.

God never revoked his covenant, He completed it.

All Jews  have to do is accept it. Yet the Church has crossed them off the list of people to be asked in order to please men. Is the Bear alone in finding this monstrous?

How different from the early Church, where Jews were tirelessly proselytized! Why were Jews converting to anything under the urging of the Apostle Paul and other Christian leaders if it were not necessary?

But something is going on that makes interfaith relations more important than the truth of the faith, and  the salvation of souls of people we supposedly care so much about. The Bear sniffs the air, and there is something unwholesome on the breeze more often than not of late. The Bear finds himself typing “The Prince of This World” too often.

He fears for his Church as never before.

Ultimately, the Bear fears the Church is currently advancing a different program than the one Jesus began with St. Peter. Continue Reading

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December 14, 1836: End of Toledo War

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An intriguing, but largely overlooked, feature of American history is the disputes that almost came to blows between states and territories.  One of these was the Toledo War between Michigan and Ohio.  Due to conflicting State and Federal legislation, the State of Ohio and the Territory of Michigan claimed 486 square miles in what is now the northern border of Ohio with Michigan.  The Northwest Ordinance decreed that the boundary line between north and south states in the territory would be the southern extremity of Lake Michigan.  At that time Congress had no idea just how far south Lake Michigan extended.  The Territory of Michigan claimed what was known as the Toledo Strip based upon the Ordinance while Ohio claimed the land under Ohio state legislation. Continue Reading

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Proselytism in the Francis Pontificate

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Proselytize:  to convert or attempt to convert someone from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.

Pope Francis has informed us on several occasions that he does not believe in efforts to proselytize people to embrace the Catholic Faith.  He has called proselytism solemn nonsense.  However, Pope Francis clearly does believe in heavy handed proselytism in other areas.  The sacrilegious light show at Saint Peter’s last week was nothing but a propaganda effort by the advocates of global warming hysteria.  Thus the efforts and resources of the Church are channeled into causes completely foreign to its reason to exist:  to bring the Gospel of Christ to as many people as possible.

It is always interesting to see leftists, once they take charge of an organization, switching its mission to one of supporting leftist initiatives of the day, while the original goals of the organization are forgotten or downplayed.   If one keeps this in mind, the current pontificate is easy to understand.  Of course, any religion that succumbs to this process is on the path to extinction.  The Episcopalians are a prime example of this:

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is leaving office this month after a tumultuous nine years in office that saw significant conflict and numerical decline in the oldline church.

Statistics released this week by the denomination’s Office of Diocesan and Congregational Ministries indicate that Jefferts Schori is leaving her successor, Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry, with decline that is steepening rather than tapering off.

The church’s domestic U.S. membership dropped 2.7 percent from a reported 1,866,758 members in 2013 to 1,817,004 in 2014, a loss of 49,794 persons. Attendance took an even steeper hit, with the average number of Sunday worshipers dropping from 623,691 in 2013 to 600,411 in 2014, a decline of 23,280 persons in the pews, down 3.7 percent.

The numbers are significantly worse than 2013, when the church reported a 1.4 percent decline in membership and 2.6 percent decline in average Sunday attendance. One contributing factor is figures from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), the local Episcopal Church jurisdiction formed after the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina departed the denomination in the autumn of 2012. Updated figures from TECSC show that the body has 6,387 active baptized members and an average Sunday attendance of 2,812 persons. This is down 77 percent from the 28,195 members and 12,005 attendance average previously reported. The Diocese of South Carolina is one of five dioceses to depart the denomination since Jefferts Schori’s election, along with hundreds of individual congregations. The Diocese of South Carolina has accepted an offer of oversight from the worldwide Anglican Communion’s Global South and now functions independently from the U.S.-based Episcopal Church.

Other measures of Episcopal Church vitality also saw decline: the denomination reported the shuttering of 69 parishes and missions, down from 6,622 in 2013 to 6,553 in 2014. Children’s baptisms declined 4.8 percent from 25,822 to 24,594 and adult baptisms declined during the same time-frame from 3,675 to 3,530, a decline of nearly 4 percent.

The number of marriages performed was a rare bright spot, rising from 9,933 in 2013 to 10,337 couples tying the knot in Episcopal Church ceremonies in 2014. The church does not report opposite-sex and same-sex marriages separately in its annual table of statistics. Burials also nudged up slightly, from 28,960 in 2013 to 29,011 in 2014.

While the Episcopal Church has established a continued pattern of steady decline since the early 2000s, the unbroken trend is relatively recent: the church lost only 18,000 members in the 1990s, a plateau that dropped off about the time Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was consecrated the church’s first openly partnered gay bishop. Continue Reading

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C&C Miracles

Written because during C&C Saints the issue of the certified miracles that are required to show that a Saint was in position to nag Himself in person, so to speak; that would require figuring out what a miracle is, and then what it takes, and even a basic summary is worth its own post.  So here’s a post, only slightly re-written.

Literally, it’s from the the Latin for “wonderful”. As we are using it, it’s close– wonder-workers, things done by supernatural power, specifically those things done by the power of God. There are several Greek terms at the link for specific meanings if anybody wants to go and break it out.

A miracle is a thing done by the power of God. An event in the natural world that is not of the natural world, so to speak. Continue Reading