Events in history sometimes seem as if they were written by a novelist, or should I say Novelist. Such was the sad case of Philip Hamilton. Eldest son of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Hamilton, Hamilton graduated at the age of 19 from Columbia, a brilliant student like his father. It was at a Fourth of July celebration at Columbia that he heard George I. Eacker, a 27 year old lawyer and a political supporter of Aaron Burr, give a speech attacking his father. Hamilton and his friend Richard Price called Eacker out in a Manhattan theater on November 21, 1801. Eacker called them damned rascals and they responded by challenging Eacker to duels. Eacker fought a duel the next day with Richard Price in which neither of the participants was injured, although shots were exchanged.
On November 22, 1801 in Weehawken, New Jersey, the same place where his father would receive his fatal wound from Aaron Burr, Hamilton and Eacker faced each other. Apparently they faced each other about a minute without raising their pistols, and one wishes that reason had prevailed. Eacker finally fired, hitting Hamilton in his right hip and left arm. Hamilton also fired, but this may have been merely an involuntary reaction to the force of the shot that hit him. Some sources say that Alexander Hamilton had counseled his son to fire in the air before his opponent fired, so that the matter could be settled honorably without blood shed. Continue Reading
Tom Hoopes over at National Catholic Register demonstrates why so much of what passes for Catholic journalism in this papacy is worse than useless:
I’ll go further: My vocation, in fact, calls me to defend the Holy Father wherever and however I can.
I freely admit that this is not always easy. I spent a year working on What Pope Francis Really Said, and what a year it was. It was the year of Laudato Si and the synod on the family. I was writing about papal remarks on everything from “Who am I to judge?” and “rabbits” to Zika and Amoris Laetitia.
At first, I hated it. I hated slogging through the Pope’s words at exactly the moment great doubt was being cast on him.
But now, I am so grateful that I did it. I can hardly contain my joy. I discovered a secret I desperately want to share: Far from tearing the Church apart with oafish ambiguity, Pope Francis is building it up with strategic intelligence.
It would take a book to explain what I mean. But suffice it to say that we needn’t either strike down our own shepherd on the one hand or cover up his embarrassment on the other.
What we should do, in fact, is unite around “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful,” which, Catechism 882 tells us, is “the Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor.” Continue Reading
A Passage For Trumpet: Twilight Zone episode originally broadcast on May 20, 1960. Drunken, suicidal trumpet player Joey Crown, (Jack Klugman), gets a second chance at life, courtesy of an angelic trumpet player, (John Anderson), named Gabe. Continue Reading
(I originally posted this in 2010. I think I will begin posting it on each September 29, the feast of the Archangels.)
In 1947 Father Domenico Pechenino related what he had witnessed over six decades before.
“I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant’s head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.
“Finally, as though coming to his senses, he lightly but firmly tapped his hand and rose to his feet. He headed for his private office. His retinue followed anxiously and solicitously, whispering: ‘Holy Father, are you not feeling well? Do you need anything?’ He answered: ‘Nothing, nothing.’ About half an hour later, he called for the Secretary of the Congregation of Rites and, handing him a sheet of paper, requested that it be printed and sent to all the ordinaries around the world. What was that paper? It was the prayer that we recite with the people at the end of every Mass. It is the plea to Mary and the passionate request to the Prince of the heavenly host, (St. Michael: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle) beseeching God to send Satan back to hell.”
Cardinal Giovanni Batista Nassalli Rocca di Corneiliano wrote in his Pastoral Letters on Lent: “the sentence ‘The evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls’ has a historical explanation that was many times repeated by his private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli. Leo XIII truly saw, in a vision, demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome). The prayer that he asked all the Church to recite was the fruit of that experience. He would recite that prayer with strong, powerful voice: we heard it many a time in the Vatican Basilica. Leo XIII also personally wrote an exorcism that is included in the Roman Ritual. He recommended that bishops and priests read these exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes. He himself would recite them often throughout the day.”
The Prayer written by the Pope is of course the famous prayer to Saint Michael:
Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.
Amen. Continue Reading
Yeah, Trump just isn’t in the same league as the professional politician mental titans he is running against.
I have called Hillary a transparent crook, and so she is, but we should always remember that she has done far more over her career than simply getting rich on graft and influence peddling. She has also shielded her sexual predator husband and waged ceaseless campaigns of character assassination against his victims who have come forward:
After the first presidential debate Monday, Trump said he didn’t want to discuss the issue of Clinton’s sexual “transgressions” because the former first daughter was present at the event.
“I didn’t want to do it with Chelsea … I didn’t want to say what I was going to say with Chelsea in the room,” Trump told ABC News.
Chelsea responded to Trump’s statement during an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine:
“It’s a distraction from his inability to talk about what’s actually at stake in this election and to offer concrete, comprehensive proposals about the economy, or our public school system, or debt-free college, or keeping our country safe and Americans safe here at home and around the world. …
“And candidly, I don’t remember a time in my life when my parents and my family weren’t being attacked, and so it just sort of seems to be in that tradition, unfortunately. And what I find most troubling by far are Trump’s — and we talked about this when you interviewed me the night before the Iowa caucus — are Trump’s continued, relentless attacks on whole swaths of our country and even our global community: women, Muslims, Americans with disabilities, a Gold Star family. I mean, that, to me, is far more troubling than whatever his most recent screed against my mom or my family [is].”
That’s what prompted Broaddrick to send the following six tweets to Chelsea:
Matthew Schmitz, literary editor of First Things, has a post at the New York Times asking Has Francis Failed?:
When Pope Francis ascended to the chair of St. Peter in March 2013, the world looked on in wonder. Here at last was a pope in line with the times, a man who preferred spontaneous gestures to ritual forms. Francis paid his own hotel bill and eschewed the red shoes. Rather than move into the grand papal apartments, he settled in the cozy guesthouse for visitors to the Vatican. He also set a new nondogmatic tone with statements like “Who am I to judge?”
Observers predicted that the new pope’s warmth, humility and charisma would prompt a “Francis effect” — bringing disaffected Catholics back to a church that would no longer seem so forbidding and cold. Three years into his papacy, the predictions continue. Last winter, Austen Ivereigh, the author of an excellent biography of Pope Francis, wrote that the pope’s softer stance on communion for the divorced and remarried “could trigger a return to parishes on a large scale.” In its early days, Francis’ Jesuit order labored to bring Protestants back into the fold of the church. Could Francis do the same for Catholics tired of headlines about child abuse and culture wars?
In a certain sense, things have changed. Perceptions of the papacy, or at least of the pope, have improved. Francis is far more popular than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Sixty-three percent of American Catholics approve of him, while only 43 percent approved of Benedict at the height of his popularity, according to a 2015 New York Times and CBS News poll. Francis has also placed a great emphasis on reaching out to disaffected Catholics.
But are Catholics actually coming back? In the United States, at least, it hasn’t happened. New survey findings from Georgetown’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate suggest that there has been no Francis effect — at least, no positive one. In 2008, 23 percent of American Catholics attended Mass each week. Eight years later, weekly Mass attendance has held steady or marginally declined, at 22 percent.
Of course, the United States is only one part of a global church. But the researchers at Georgetown found that certain types of religious observance are weaker now among young Catholics than they were under Benedict. In 2008, 50 percent of millennials reported receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, and 46 percent said they made some sacrifice beyond abstaining from meat on Fridays. This year, only 41 percent reported receiving ashes and only 36 percent said they made an extra sacrifice, according to CARA. In spite of Francis’ personal popularity, young people seem to be drifting away from the faith.
Why hasn’t the pope’s popularity reinvigorated the church? Perhaps it is too soon to judge. We probably won’t have a full measure of any Francis effect until the church is run by bishops appointed by Francis and priests who adopt his pastoral approach. This will take years or decades.
Yet something more fundamental may stand in the way of a Francis effect. Francis is a Jesuit, and like many members of Catholic religious orders, he tends to view the institutional church, with its parishes and dioceses and settled ways, as an obstacle to reform. He describes parish priests as “little monsters” who “throw stones” at poor sinners. He has given curial officials a diagnosis of “spiritual Alzheimer’s.” He scolds pro-life activists for their “obsession” with abortion. He has said that Catholics who place an emphasis on attending Mass, frequenting confession, and saying traditional prayers are “Pelagians” — people who believe, heretically, that they can be saved by their own works.
Such denunciations demoralize faithful Catholics without giving the disaffected any reason to return. Why join a church whose priests are little monsters and whose members like to throw stones? When the pope himself stresses internal spiritual states over ritual observance, there is little reason to line up for confession or wake up for Mass. Continue Reading
Your literary men, and your politicians, and so do the whole clan of the enlightened among us, essentially differ in these points. They have no respect for the wisdom of others; but they pay it off by a very full measure of confidence in their own. With them it is a sufficient motive to destroy an old scheme of things, because it is an old one. As to the new, they are in no sort of fear with regard to the duration of a building run up in haste; because duration is no object to those who think little or nothing has been done before their time, and who place all their hopes in discovery. They conceive, very systematically, that all things which give perpetuity are mischievous, and therefore they are at inexpiable war with all establishments. They think that government may vary like modes of dress, and with as little ill effect: that there needs no principle of attachment, except a sense of present conveniency, to any constitution of the state. They always speak as if they were of opinion that there is a singular species of compact between them and their magistrates, which binds the magistrate, but which has nothing reciprocal in it, but that the majesty of the people has a right to dissolve it without any reason, but its will. Their attachment to their country itself, is only so far as it agrees with some of their fleeting projects; it begins and ends with that scheme of polity which falls in with their momentary opinion.
Edmund Burke, From Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
(I posted this last June. It seemed appropriate to post it again today.)
A very brave man has died:
The last surviving Catholic priest imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp has died at the age of 102, more than 70 years after surviving a Nazi death march.
The Rev. Hermann Scheipers died on June 2 in Ochtrup, Germany, the Catholic website Aleteia said.
He spent more than four years at Dachau after being arrested in 1940, reportedly for supporting Polish forced laborers. “Here, you are defenseless, without dignity or rights,” Scheipers recalled being told on arriving at the Nazi camp.
Go here to read the rest.
2,579 Catholic priests, seminarians and brothers were thrown by the Nazis during World War II into Dachau. 1,780 of these were from Poland. Of these, some 868 priests perished, 300 in medical “experiments” or by torture in the showers of the camp.
The remaining priests, seminarians and brothers came from 38 nations. Besides the Poles the largest groups were 447 German and Austrian priests, 156 French priests and 46 Belgian priests.
A martyr priest is recognized:
Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig, a young priest with Czech roots serving in Germany and Austria, was arrested by the Nazis on April 21, 1941.
His crime? Preaching against the Third Reich from his pulpit, particularly against their treatment of the Jewish people. He encouraged his congregation to be faithful to God and to resist the lies of the Nazi regime.
As punishment, Fr. Unzeitig was sent to what has been called the “largest monastery in the world”: Dachau concentration camp, which became renowned for the number of ministers and priests within its walls.
For several years, Fr. Unzeitig was able to remain in relatively stable health despite the poor treatment he received. However, when a wave of the often-fatal typhoid fever swept through the camp in 1945, he and 19 other priests volunteered to do what no one else wanted to – care for the sick and dying in the typhoid barracks, an almost-certain death sentence in and of itself. He and his companions spent their days bathing and caring for the sick, praying with them and offering last rites
Eventually, on March 2, 1945, Fr. Unzeitig succumbed to typhoid fever himself, along with all but two of the other priest volunteers. Dachau was liberated by American soldiers just a few weeks later, on April 29.
In recognition of his heroic virtue, Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig was declared venerable by Benedict XVI on July 3, 2009.
On January 21, Pope Francis officially acknowledged Fr. Unzeitig as a martyr, killed in hatred of the faith, which opens the path for his beatification, the next step in becoming a canonized saint.
was declared venerable by Benedict XVI on July 3, 2009.
On January 21, Pope Francis officially acknowledged Fr. Unzeitig as a martyr, killed in hatred of the faith, which opens the path for his beatification, the next step in becoming a canonized saint. Continue Reading
From 1961, a commercial for the RCA “Wireless Wizard”. Not the first wireless remote, that title goes to the Zenith Flash-matic in 1955. Remote controls are an interesting example of fairly rapid transition of technology from experimental into mass production. The above commercial seems rather over the top to modern sensibilities, but the development of a mass market for electronics gave a strong peace time impetus to technological development. My father initially denounced remote controls as toys for lazy rich people. When we got one after prices came down and the technology was perfected, it was practically impossible to pry it from his hands! Various revolutions during my lifetime have seized public attention, but the continuous technological revolutions of the last six decades probably will prove the most long lasting.
Fifty-six years to the day from the first Presidential Debate: Trump v.
Nixon Clinton. Put your thoughts on the debate in the comboxes.
I thought it was a wretched debate with neither Hillary nor Trump doing especially well, although I gave it to Clinton on points. However, the online polls are showing a decisive Trump win. That is probably bad news for Hillary as those often in the wake of a Presidential debate are a good sign of political strength as hard core partisans tend to see their candidate winning no matter what. It looks like Trump did himself no harm tonight and Clinton did herself no good. She needed to change the momentum of the race away from Trump, and this is an early sign that she has failed to accomplish that.
In a statement sure to warm the cockles of the hearts of despots and would be despots everywhere, Peter Cardinal Turkson is signaling that Pope Francis may junk the concept of just war:
He said that while just war teachings were first developed to make wars difficult or impossible to justify, they are now used more as conditions that allow violence to be used.
“My understanding is that it was initially meant to make it difficult to wage war because you needed to justify it,” said the cardinal. “This now has been interpreted these days as a war is just when it is exercised in self-defense … or to put off an aggressor or to protect innocent people.”
Turkson continued: “In that case, Pope Francis would say: ‘You don’t stop an aggression by being an aggressor. You don’t stop a conflict by inciting another conflict. You don’t stop a war by starting another war.'”
“It doesn’t stop,” said the cardinal. “We’ve seen it all around us. Trying to stop the aggressor in Iraq has not stopped war. Trying to stop the aggressor in Libya has not stopped war. It’s not stopped the war in any place. We do not stop war by starting another war.”
Turkson said the participants at the conference promoted “another thinking:” Gospel nonviolence, or “nonviolence as Jesus was nonviolent.”
“People think that this is Utopian, but Jesus was that,” said the cardinal, calling Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to turn the other cheek if someone were to strike them as an example of “non-aggression” in response to violence. Continue Reading
The 1959 movie, The FBI Story, was a project near and dear to the heart of J. Edgar Hoover, founding director of the FBI, who ran it with an iron fist from 1935 until his death in 1972. Based upon the best selling authorized history of the FBI, The FBI Story, Hoover wanted the FBI to be portrayed in heroic mode, with no controversial spots. A squad of special agents supervised the film and everyone associated with the film, no matter how humble, had to be vetted by the FBI. Continue Reading
Ross Douthat, who has the unenviable task of scattering pearls of conservative wisdom before the New York Times readership, has this prediction on the debate:
A series of debates between a man proudly unprepared for the office of the presidency and a woman of Clinton’s knowledge and experience should produce a predictable outcome: She should win, and he should lose.
This is not a hot take. It is a cold take, a boring take, a take that assumes that the political world, even now, is still relatively rule-bound and predictable.
And if I’m wrong, if Hillary manages to throw the debates and the election to Donald Trump, it will be the last such take I offer for many years to come.
Presidential debates don’t matter much except when they do. Back in 1976 on October 6, Ford, in his second debate with Carter, denied that Poland was dominated by the Soviet Union. He was too proud and stupid to simply admit intially he had misspoke. This stalled his rise in the polls with Carter, and he went on to lose a close one.
In 1980 the one and only debate between Carter and Reagan occurred on October 28, 1980, six days before the election. Reagan clobbered Carter and Carter had no time to recover before election day.
So where is the current race just prior to the debate? The Washington Post ABC poll released last night shows a dead heat. Go here to read about it. Likewise the Morning Consult poll released yesterday. Go here to read about it. The Los Angeles Times Tracking poll shows Trump with a four point advantage. Go here to look at it. Battleground polls have been trending over the past few weeks in Trump’s direction. A Pennsylvania Poll by Morning Call Muhlenberg College yesterday for example shows Trump slashing into Clinton’s lead in Pennsylvania with Clinton having only a two point lead in a four way race. Go here to read about it. If Trump takes Pennsylvania, Clinton’s path to victory becomes very, very difficult. Right now Trump is ahead in all the states taken by Romney, and leads in Ohio, Florida, Iowa and Nevada. Trump is tied with Clinton in Maine and close to tied in Colorado. A shocking poll last week showed him only six points down in Illinois. If that poll is accurate, and I have my doubts about it, Clinton is in deep trouble around the nation. Continue Reading
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS X
ON POPE GREGORY THE GREAT
TO OUR VENERABLE BRETHREN, THE PATRIARCHS,
PRIMATES, ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS,
AND OTHER ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE
Health and the Apostolic Benediction.
1. Joyful indeed comes the remembrance, Venerable Brethren, of that great and incomparable man, the Pontiff Gregory, first of the name, whose centenary solemnity, at the close of the thirteenth century since his death, we are about to celebrate. By that God who killeth and maketh alive, who humbleth and exalteth, it was ordained, not, We think, without a special providence, that amid the almost innumerable cares of Our Apostolic ministry, amid all the anxieties which the government of the Universal Church imposes upon Us, amid our pressing solicitude to satisfy as best We may your claims, Venerable Brethren, who have been called to a share in Our Apostolate, and those of all the faithful entrusted to Our care, Our gaze at the beginning of Our Pontificate should be turned at once towards that most holy and illustrious Predecessor of Ours, the honor of the Church and its glory. For Our heart is filled with great confidence in his most powerful intercession with God, and strengthened by the memory of the sublime maxims he inculcated in his lofty office and of the virtues devoutly practiced by him. And since by the force of the former and the fruitfulness of the latter he has left on God’s Church a mark so vast, so deep, so lasting, that his contemporaries and posterity have justly given him the name of Great, and today, after all these centuries, the eulogy of his epitaph is still verified: “He lives eternal in every place by his innumerable good works” (Apud Joann. Diac., Vita Greg. iv. 68) it will surely be given, with the help of Divine grace, to all followers of his wonderful example, to fulfill the duties of their own offices, as far as human weakness permits. Continue Reading
Well, he says he will vote for him. Here is the text of what Cruz said:
This election is unlike any other in our nation’s history. Like many other voters, I have struggled to determine the right course of action in this general election.
In Cleveland, I urged voters, “please, don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket whom you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”
After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
I’ve made this decision for two reasons. First, last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word.
Second, even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable — that’s why I have always been #NeverHillary.
Six key policy differences inform my decision.
First, and most important, the Supreme Court. For anyone concerned about the Bill of Rights — free speech, religious liberty, the Second Amendment — the Court hangs in the balance. I have spent my professional career fighting before the Court to defend the Constitution. We are only one justice away from losing our most basic rights, and the next president will appoint as many as four new justices. We know, without a doubt, that every Clinton appointee would be a left-wing ideologue. Trump, in contrast, has promised to appoint justices “in the mold of Scalia.”
For some time, I have been seeking greater specificity on this issue, and today the Trump campaign provided that, releasing a very strong list of potential Supreme Court nominees — including Sen. Mike Lee, who would make an extraordinary justice — and making an explicit commitment to nominate only from that list. This commitment matters, and it provides a serious reason for voters to choose to support Trump.
Second, Obamacare. The failed healthcare law is hurting millions of Americans. If Republicans hold Congress, leadership has committed to passing legislation repealing Obamacare. Clinton, we know beyond a shadow of doubt, would veto that legislation. Trump has said he would sign it.
Third, energy. Clinton would continue the Obama administration’s war on coal and relentless efforts to crush the oil and gas industry. Trump has said he will reduce regulations and allow the blossoming American energy renaissance to create millions of new high-paying jobs.
Fourth, immigration. Clinton would continue and even expand President Obama’s lawless executive amnesty. Trump has promised that he would revoke those illegal executive orders.
Fifth, national security. Clinton would continue the Obama administration’s willful blindness to radical Islamic terrorism. She would continue importing Middle Eastern refugees whom the FBI cannot vet to make sure they are not terrorists. Trump has promised to stop the deluge of unvetted refugees.
Sixth, Internet freedom. Clinton supports Obama’s plan to hand over control of the Internet to an international community of stakeholders, including Russia, China, and Iran. Just this week, Trump came out strongly against that plan, and in support of free speech online.
These are six vital issues where the candidates’ positions present a clear choice for the American people.
If Clinton wins, we know — with 100% certainty — that she would deliver on her left-wing promises, with devastating results for our country.
My conscience tells me I must do whatever I can to stop that.
We also have seen, over the past few weeks and months, a Trump campaign focusing more and more on freedom — including emphasizing school choice and the power of economic growth to lift African-Americans and Hispanics to prosperity.
Finally, after eight years of a lawless Obama administration, targeting and persecuting those disfavored by the administration, fidelity to the rule of law has never been more important.
The Supreme Court will be critical in preserving the rule of law. And, if the next administration fails to honor the Constitution and Bill of Rights, then I hope that Republicans and Democrats will stand united in protecting our fundamental liberties.
Our country is in crisis. Hillary Clinton is manifestly unfit to be president, and her policies would harm millions of Americans. And Donald Trump is the only thing standing in her way.
A year ago, I pledged to endorse the Republican nominee, and I am honoring that commitment. And if you don’t want to see a Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you to vote for him.
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Social media users are very much used to dealing with phony accounts, and Catholics in the world of Facebook and Twitter are no exception to the rule.
Pope Benedict “broke the internet” this week after admitting to using the Twitter handle “ThisCatholicPope” in order to carry on the persona of a 79-year-old pope named “Francis.”
“The fact that a pope started a Twitter account just so he could retire and still have power to hold the Catholic faithful in the palm of his hand is deplorable,” local catfished Catholic Brenda Summers told EOTT. “By doing this, he made fools of both the right and the left in the Church. He made conservatives long for his authority and wisdom, and he kept liberals at bay by writing a bunch of crap about the environment.”
After being confronted by EOTT, Benedict explained his actions and apologized outright.
“It was never anything personal. At the time, I was being really selfish…I wanted to pray and study without having to deal with the gay mafia in the Vatican. That’s the best excuse I have,” Benedict said, before adding, “Francis is someone who knows how to deal with the politics in the Church and the world. He’s my inner-popular Peter. Everyone loves him. No one ever loved me before Francis. No one ever awarded me TIME’s Person of the Year. I was just the old german who was once a member of the Hitler Youth.”
At press time, Pope Benedict is asking the Catholic faithful to forgive him and to just love him for who he is…on the inside. Continue Reading
Something for the weekend. Entry of the Gladiators by Julius Fucik. Written in 1897, Czech composer Julius Fucik wanted the march to evoke Roman gladiators entering the arena. Ironically it has become the entrance song for clowns in circuses around the globe.
John R. Coppedge, a surgeon from Texas, writing in The Hill, has the best speculation I have seen on what is physically wrong with Hillary Clinton: Continue Reading
The Pope in a curious address to a group of Italian journalists compared journalism based upon “gossip or rumors” to terrorism.
Speaking to a gathering of Italian journalists Thursday, Pope Francis argued that journalism that peddles gossip or rumors is “terrorism.”
Francis, in his address to National Council Order of Journalists, reminded the audience that he has often likened gossip to terrorism — “how it is possible to kill someone with tongue” — and said, “This applies to individual people — in the family or at work — but even more so to journalists because their voice can reach everyone, and this is a very powerful weapon.”
“Journalism must always respect the dignity of the person,” he continued. “Journalism cannot be a weapon for the destruction of people or even populations. Nor must it fuel fears in relation to changes or phenomena such as forced migration due to hunger or war.”
The Pope described the type of journalism he would like to see:
“I hope that increasingly and everywhere journalism may be a tool for construction, a factor of the common good and for the acceleration of processes of reconciliation; that it may be able to resist the temptation to foment confrontation, with a language that stokes the flames of division, instead of favoring a culture of encounter,” Francis said.
I heartily concur with Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts celebration of our current season:
Anyone who has followed my blog for more than a year or so knows one thing for sure: I love the Fall. I enjoy Spring and there’s still enough kid in me to enjoy Winter, especially leading up to Christmas. Summer is my hibernation time. But Fall? It’s to me what Spring is supposed to be to most people.
Today is a day off. The boys are off of school, owing to a local holiday that can only happen in small town America. And with it, I have the day off as well. Don’t know what we’ll do today. Maybe nothing, though I always hate to let a day go by without something to do. I often start reading The Lord of the Rings in September, but thought this year I’d try something different. This year I’m going to read through the Appendices. Truth be told, I’ve glanced at them over the years, but never read through them. As for the other fun parts of Fall, those are just beginning.
The future naval officers, who live within these walls, will find in the career of the man whose life we this day celebrate, not merely a subject for admiration and respect, but an object lesson to be taken into their innermost hearts. . . . Every officer . . . should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows.
Theodore Roosevelt on John Paul Jones, Speech at Annapolis- April 24, 1906
The traditions of daring, courage and professional skill that have ever been the hallmark of our Navy were first established in the lopsided fight our seamen waged during the Revolution. No single engagement more typifies this than the battle in which Captain John Paul Jones, sailing in a manifestly inferior ship, USS BonHomme Richard, defeated HMS Serapis on September 23, 1779. Here is the report of Jones on this memorable sea fight: Continue Reading
Philosopher Doctor Ed Feser takes on Mark Shea on the death penalty in the biggest mismatch since Godzilla tangled with Bambi:
As Pope St. John XXIII once wrote:
The Catholic Church, of course, leaves many questions open to the discussion of theologians. She does this to the extent that matters are not absolutely certain…
[T]he common saying, expressed in various ways and attributed to various authors, must be recalled with approval: in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity. (Ad Petri Cathedram 71-72)
What Catholic could disagree with that?
Well, Mark Shea, apparently. For no sooner does he acknowledge the truth of what Joe and I wrote than he proceeds bitterly to denounce Catholics who have the effrontery actually to exercise the right the Church herself has recognized to hold differing opinions on the topic of capital punishment. After acknowledging the truth of our basic claim, he writes: “So what?” – as if Joe and I were addressing some question no one is asking. This is followed by a string of remarks like these:
When it comes to taking human life, the right wing culture of death asks “When do we get to kill?”
The Church, in contrast, asks, “When do we have to kill?”
The death penalty supporter looks for loopholes and ways to enlarge them so that he gets to kill somebody. The Magisterium urges us to look for ways to avoid killing unless driven to do so by absolute necessity…
The term for that is “prolife”. You know, from conception to natural death. It’s what we are supposed to actually mean when we say “All Lives Matter”. Even criminal ones.
So it comes back to this: If you stop wasting your time and energy fighting the guidance of the Church, searching for loopholes allowing you to kill some of those All Lives that supposedly Matter to you, you find that you have lots more time and energy for defending the unborn that you say are your core non-negotiable. Why not do that instead of battling three popes and all the bishops in the world in a struggle to keep the US on a list with every Islamic despotism from Saudi Arabia to Iran, as well as Communist China and North Korea? Why the “prolife” zeal to kill?
Be more prolife, not less…
“I want to kill the maximum number of people I can get away with killing” is, on the face of it, a hard sell as comporting with the clear and obvious teaching of the Church and perhaps there are other issues in our culture of death that might use our time and energy more fruitfully, particularly when the immediate result of such an argument is to spawn a fresh batch of comments from priests scandalously declaring the pope a heretic, wacked out conspiracy theorists calling the pope “evil beyond comprehension“, and false prophets forecasting that “Antipope Francis” will approve abortion. This is the atmosphere of the warriors of the right wing culture of death. It does not need more oxygen.
Well. What on earth is all that about? And what does it have to do with what Joe and I wrote?
Let’s consider the various charges Shea makes. As to the “So what?”, Joe and I are by no means merely reiterating something everyone already agrees with. On the contrary, there is an entire school of thought with tremendous influence in orthodox Catholic circles – the “new natural law theory” of Germain Grisez, John Finnis, Robert P. George, and many others – that takes the position that capital punishment is always and intrinsically immoral and that the Church can and ought to reverse her ancient teaching to the contrary. Many other Catholics, including some bishops, routinely denounce capital punishment in terms that are so extreme that they give the false impression that the death penalty is by its very nature no less a violation of the fifth commandment than abortion or other forms of murder are.
In our article we cited cases in which even Pope Francis himself has made such extreme statements. We also suggested that the pope’s remarks should be interpreted as rhetorical flourishes, but the fact remains that they certainly appear on a natural reading to be claiming that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong – a claim which would reverse the teaching of scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and every previous pope who has addressed the topic.
Since Shea agrees that the Church cannot make such a change, to be consistent he would also have to admit that the more extreme rhetoric from the pope and some bishops and other Catholics is misleading and regrettable. He should also agree that “new natural lawyers” and others who hold that the Church should completely reverse past teaching on capital punishment are taking a position that cannot be reconciled with orthodoxy.
The late Cardinal Dulles, among the most eminent of contemporary Catholic theologians, has (in remarks quoted in our article) gone so far as to say that a reversal of traditional teaching on capital punishment would threaten to undermine the very credibility of the Magisterium in general. Our primary motivation in writing our book was to show that the Church has not in fact reversed past teaching on this subject, and thereby to defend the credibility of the Magisterium. Accordingly, Shea’s charge that Joe and I are in the business of “fighting the guidance of the Church” is unjust and offensive. So too is Shea’s casually lumping us in with those who characterize Pope Francis as a “heretic” and “antipope.” In fact we explicitly said that we do not believe that the pope wishes to reverse past teaching, and we proposed reading his statements in a way consistent with the tradition.
As to Shea’s other remarks, it is simply outrageous – to be frank, it seems as clear an instance as there could be of what moral theologians would classify as an instance of calumny – to suggest that Joe and I are really just “look[ing] for loopholes and ways to enlarge them so that [we get] to kill somebody,” that we “want to kill the maximum number of people [we] can get away with killing,” that we have a “zeal to kill,” etc. There is absolutely nothing in what we wrote that justifies such bizarre and inflammatory accusations. Continue Reading
From those wonderfully twisted folks at The Lutheran Satire.
Well, the ecumenical farce at Assisi II has ended:
Pope Francis and leaders of other world religions said “No to War!” on Tuesday, vowing to oppose terrorism in God’s name and appealing to politicians to listen to “the anguished cry of so many innocents”.
Francis flew by helicopter to the central Italian hilltop city that was home to St. Francis, the 13th century saint revered by many religions as a patron of peace and nature and a defender of the poor.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church closed a three-day meeting where about 500 representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and other faiths discussed how their members could better promote peace and reconciliation.
Francis, who delivered two addresses and shared meals with the leaders, said indifference to suffering had become “a new and deeply sad paganism” that caused some to turn away from war victims and refugees with the same ease as changing a television channel.
Near the end of the gathering, members of each religion prayed in a separate locations and then joined each other in a square outside the famous pink stone basilica where St. Francis is buried.
Prayers were said for the victims of war, including in Syria and Afghanistan, and for the refugees fleeing the conflicts. A woman refugee from Aleppo now living in Italy told the pope at final gathering “my heart is in tatters”.
“Only peace is holy, and not war,” the Argentine-born pontiff said.
ABUSE OF RELIGION
Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, prayed in the basilica with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, and Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of up to 300 million Orthodox Christians around the globe.
In a final appeal that key representatives signed and gave to children from around the world, they vowed “to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism.”
“No to war! May the anguished cry of the many innocents not go unheeded. Let us urge leaders of nations to defuse the causes of war: the lust for power and money, the greed of arms’ dealers, personal interests and vendettas for past wrongs,” the appeal said. Continue Reading
I can’t tell you how many hours I wasted as a child watching the sitcom Green Acres. Even in retrospect the show still strikes me as one of the funniest series broadcast by a national network (CBS). I loved the patriotic, and usually conservative, speeches by Oliver Wendell Douglas, the successful lawyer who, with his wife Lisa, portrayed by Eva Gabor, has traded the life of a New York City attorney to be an unsuccessful farmer in the Hooterville countryside. Eddie Arnold played Douglas to perfection as the straight man to all the zanies around him. Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear believes we now live in a Green Acres’ world:
The Bear knows that Green Acres was coded by time travelers to tell us, here in the blighted 21st century, everything we need to know.
Oliver Douglas is a New York lawyer who fulfills a life-long dream to leave the big city and become a farmer. He drags his socialite wife Lisa to the bucolic setting of Hooterville, and they try to make a go of it. Ironically, it is the ditzy, game, unflappable Lisa who fits in, not the lawyer turned farmer, Oliver. Oliver has a romanticized idea of farming, and often breaks into little speeches about “the little green shoots,” which no one wants to hear.
You see, everyone in Hooterville is one wheel short of a tractor.
The county extension agent can’t finish a sentence without contradicting himself. An old couple treat a pig as a child. Twin carpenters can’t even hang a door. (No matter how many appearances the carpenters make, the house is in the same incomplete state at the end of the series as at the beginning.) The Douglases have to climb a pole to use the phone; connecting the last forty feet to the ramshackle farmhouse a seeming impossibility. A peddler always happens to show up with his dubious and overpriced wares just when Oliver happens to need something.
Oliver, the who who wanted to come here, after all, spends his days in exasperation at the incompetence and sheer weirdness that only he seems to notice. Although Lisa misses her glamorous life in New York City, she fits right in with her gowns and signature marabou trimmed robe.
Hooterville is sort of a first-rate third-world country. It has everything we take for granted, except not quite. The loopy inhabitants have all found their niches and are happy. All except Oliver. The only sane man in a mad world.
The Bear bets you get this. He bets you are Oliver. He bets that you look around and are amazed at the insanity that has engulfed the West. Weirdest of all, you seem to be the only person that notices.
Is the Bear right? When a Muslim shouting Allahu Akbar rampages through Sam Drucker’s general store and kills Uncle Joe, the sheriff solemnly announces he is “searching for motives.” Continue Reading
At his blog Chiesa Sandro Magister cites a comment of the Pope Emeritus on the Regensburg Address, now a decade in the past:
One last observation concerning the address on Islam by Benedict XVI in Regensburg, an address that effectively cannot be imagined as coming from the mouth of Pope Bergoglio.
Asked if he had struck by accident upon that citation of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos which, extrapolated from the address, unleashed the violent reactions of many Muslims, Ratzinger responds:
“I had read this dialogue of Palaiologos because I was interested in the dialogue between Christianity and Islam. So it was not an accident. It was truly a matter of a dialogue. The emperor at that time was already a vassal of the Muslims, and yet he had the freedom to say things one could no longer say today. So I simply found it interesting to bring the discussion to bear upon this conversation of five hundred years ago.”
Well said: “The freedom to say things one could no longer say today.” Continue Reading
Faithful readers of this blog know that I am fascinated by Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s 2007 book The Black Swan. In this book Taleb took a look at the impact of events in history for which our prior experiences give us no inkling, Black Swan events. 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.
I think Donald Trump is a Black Swan event in American political history, but he is also a part of a growing global revolt against a fairly worthless class of governing elites. Taleb has a look at this in a recent post:
What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.
But the problem is the one-eyed following the blind: these self-described members of the “intelligenzia” can’t find a coconut in Coconut Island, meaning they aren’t intelligent enough to define intelligence hence fall into circularities — but their main skill is capacity to pass exams written by people like them. With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers (or Montaigne and such filtered classical knowledge) with a better track record than these policymaking goons.
Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats who feel entitled to run our lives aren’t even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. They cant tell science from scientism — in fact in their eyes scientism looks more scientific than real science. (For instance it is trivial to show the following: much of what the Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types — those who want to “nudge” us into some behavior — much of what they would classify as “rational” or “irrational” (or some such categories indicating deviation from a desired or prescribed protocol) comes from their misunderstanding of probability theory and cosmetic use of first-order models.) They are also prone to mistake the ensemble for the linear aggregation of its components as we saw in the chapter extending the minority rule.
The Intellectual Yet Idiot is a production of modernity hence has been accelerating since the mid twentieth century, to reach its local supremum today, along with the broad category of people without skin-in-the-game who have been invading many walks of life. Why? Simply, in most countries, the government’s role is between five and ten times what it was a century ago (expressed in percentage of GDP). The IYI seems ubiquitous in our lives but is still a small minority and is rarely seen outside specialized outlets, think tanks, the media, and universities — most people have proper jobs and there are not many openings for the IYI.
Beware the semi-erudite who thinks he is an erudite. He fails to naturally detect sophistry.
The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences. While rich people believe in one tax dollar one vote, more humanistic ones in one man one vote, Monsanto in one lobbyist one vote, the IYI believes in one Ivy League degree one-vote, with some equivalence for foreign elite schools and PhDs as these are needed in the club.
At The American Catholic we are dedicated to giving you up to date news on the election campaign. Thus we have this report from Acts of the Apostasy:
(AoftheANews) NEW YORK – The guardian angel for Democrat Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine told AoftheA News that he is quitting the Clinton campaign, and has announced his endorsement of Donald Trump.
“I’ve had it with him. Completely had it,” the angelic messenger said, relentlessly puffing on a Marlboro. “I haven’t slept in days. He’s driving me nuts. His comments on so-called same-sex marriage over the weekend were the final straw. He really thinks the Church will someday change its position. Sure, he was taught by Jesuits, but he oughtta know better.”
The bedraggled, unshaven divine host of heaven went on. “I probably should have done this when Hillary selected him, but I had hope, you know? Turns out I was just fooling myself.”
He explained that his endorsement of Trump was merely an attempt to get Kaine’s attention. “I’m hoping it’s a wake-up call,” he said, pouring himself a glass of Jack Daniels. “Shock him a bit. Once he hears I want to ‘make America great again’, he’ll come to his senses. Maybe. I’m so beyond frustrated.” Continue Reading
Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear advised us yesterday that today is talk like a bear day. The above video is my contribution.
Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa speculates on how great a disaster Assisi II will be:
ROME, September 18, 2016 – The memorable encounter in Assisi, thirty years ago, between John Paul II and men of all religions (see photo) was perhaps the only moment of disagreement between the holy Polish pope and his absolutely trusted chief of doctrine at the time, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who didn’t even go.
Ratzinger himself recalls this in his book-length interview published in recent days: “He knew,” he says, “that I was following a different approach.”
But now that Pope Francis, the successor to both, is preparing to replicate that event in Assisi on September 20, the contrast is reemerging even stronger than before.
A dialogue among the religions on an equal footing – Ratzinger has in fact warned even after his resignation of the papacy – would be “lethal for the Christian faith.” Because every religion “would be reduced to an interchangeable symbol” of a God assumed to be equal for all:
Naturally Jorge Mario Bergoglio does not identify with this kind of egalitarian dialogue, nor has he ever thought that the Catholic Church should give up preaching the Gospel to every creature.
But some of his actions and words have effectively bolstered such tendencies, starting with his definition of proselytism as “solemn foolishness,” without ever saying how this is to be distinguished from genuine mission. There are no few missionaries on the frontiers, having spent a lifetime preaching and baptizing, who now feel betrayed in the name of a dialogue that makes almost any conversion useless.
Also with other Christians, Protestant and Orthodox, Francis moves at a different pace compared to his predecessors.
While for example Benedict XVI encouraged and facilitated the return to the Catholic Church of Anglicans in disagreement with the “liberal” pivot of their Church, Francis does not, he prefers that they keep to their own home, as revealed by two Anglican bishops who are his friends, Gregory Venables and Tony Palmer, whom he discouraged from becoming Catholic:
But it has been above all a brief video from January of this year, released on a large scale in ten languages, that has most given the idea of a surrender to syncretism, to the equating of all the religions:
In it, Francis urges prayer together with men of every faith, for the love of peace. And along with him, in fact, appear a Buddhist, a Jew, a Muslim, with their respective symbols, all on equal terms. The pope says: “Many seek God and find God in different ways. In this broad spectrum of religions there is only one certainty for us: we are all children of God.”
Nice words, but in effect not in keeping with those of the New Testament and in particular of the Gospel of John, according to which all men are creatures of God, but the only ones who become his “children” are those who believe in Jesus Christ.
In Assisi, on September 20, Francis will again find himself beside Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and still others. And it is likely that his speech will be more circumspect than in the video.
But there is an impact of the images that will be difficult to contain and rationalize. It is that which has been extolled by many since 1986 as the “spirit of Assisi,” a formula that Ratzinger always sought in vain to defuse, as cardinal and pope, so that it would be taken in a manner opposite to how so many understand it, meaning not in the “syncretistic” and “relativistic” sense: Continue Reading
Today is the 220th anniversary of the farewell address of George Washington being published throughout the United States as an open letter to the American people. Fortunate indeed were we to have such a man as the Father of our nation. Without him to lead us to victory in the Revolution there would be no United States of America today. On re-reading his Farewell Address, I think some of the matters he touches upon are extremely relevant today:
1. Religion–Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity.
It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
2. Centralized Power–It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.
3. Partisanship–There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.
4. Government Debt–As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.
5. Honesty as Policy-. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy.
6. Foreign Policy– If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.
In retiring from the public scene Washington made this closing observation: Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. An attitude of humility for us all to remember when we contend in the Public Square.
Here is the entire text of the Farewell Address: Continue Reading
- Oh would some power the gift give us, To see ourselves as others see us.
- Robert Burns
To all pirates I have but one thing to say: amateurs.
Donald R. McClarey
Aye Maties, tis Speak Like a Pirate Day again!
Pirate Gettysburg Address
Ar, it be about four score and seven years ago since our fathers made ye new nation, a liberty port for all hands from end to end, and dedicated t’ t’ truth that all swabs be created equal.
Now we be fightin’ a great ruckus, testin’ whether ye nation, or any nation so minted like it, can last through the long watch. We be met on a great boardin’ fight o’ that war. We have come t’ dedicate a spot o’ that field, as a final restin’ place for those who here swallowed the anchor forever that that nation might live. It be altogether fittin’ and proper that we be doin’ this.
But, truth be told, we can not set aside, we can not pray over, we can not hallow this ground. T’ brave swabs, livin’ and went t’ Davy Jones’ locker, who fit here, have blessed it, far over our poor power t’ add or swipe back. T’ world won’t writ what we say here, but it can never forget what those swabs did here. It be for us t’ livin’, rather, t’ be dedicated here t’ finishin’ t’ work which they who fit here have begun. It be rather for us t’ be here dedicated t’ t’ great chore remainin’ before us—that from these honored swabs we take increased love t’ what they died for—that we here Bible swear that these shipmates shall not have went t’ Davy Jones’ locker for nothin’—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth o’ freedom—and that government o’ t’ crew, by t’ crew, for t’ crew, shall not perish from t’ seven seas. Continue Reading
Dwight is having its annual Harvest Days this weekend, and at a quarter to one the parade will be passing our house. The unique feature of the parade is the great Dwight Basset Waddle. You have not truly lived until you have seen a thousand bassets waddling down the street! We will be observing it all from the comfort of our porch with our Jack Russell Terrier Cali, who will no doubt be sending out copious greetings to her cousins! Go here to read about this event which captures the charm, and occasional goofiness, of my beloved village!
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8)
I am always amused when secularists contend that by definition there can be no miracles. History is replete with well documented cases of them. For example, Saint Joseph of Cupertino lived in the full glare of history from June 17, 1603 to September 18, 1663. Born to a widowed mother so poor that, like Christ, he was born in a stable, he was a Conventual Franciscan Friar. Although poor at his studies he was ordained to the priesthood largely due to the ecstasy he experienced before the Eucharist, and his manifest good nature and simplicity. Joseph spent most of his life in religious ecstatic states and during these states he would sometimes fly. We have accounts of hundreds of witnesses to his flights including a Spanish ambassador and his wife and Pope Urban VIII. That Joseph of Cupertino flew is as well attested as an historical fact can be prior to photography and film. Investigated by the Inquisition at one point, he alarmed his judges by falling into an ecstatic state and levitating. Go here to read about the enormous contemporary documentation describing his flights.
Canonized in 1753, Saint Joseph is the patron saint of weak students, pilots, those who travel by air, and the learning disabled. I would suggest that he might also be made a helper to Saint Thomas as the patron saint of skeptics! Continue Reading
Once one understands that Hillary Clinton is a transparent crook, this is not surprising:
An elderly woman who donated to the Hillary Clinton campaign says she was charged multiple times after she stipulated she would only be making a one-time donation, according to a report from the New York Observer.*
Carol Mahre, an 81-year-old grandmother from Minnesota who has voted Democratic since Eisenhower’s re-election in 1956, said she wanted to make a one-time donation of $25 to Clinton’s campaign. But when she received her U.S. Bank statement, she noticed that multiple charges of $25 (and one for $19) were made to her account from the Clinton campaign.
Mahre said she wanted to make only a one-time donation. Her son, Roger, agreed to help her get her money back, as she could not afford the multiple donations.
“It took me at least 40 to 50 phone calls to the campaign office before I finally got ahold of someone,” Roger told NBC affiliate Kare11, which first investigated Mahre’s story. “After I got a campaign worker on the phone, she said they would stop making the charges.”
But the charges didn’t stop. Roger said his mother is “very good with the Internet,” and doesn’t believe she would have mistakenly signed up for recurring donations. But even if she had, why would the recurring donations change from $25 to $19? Why would the charges come on the same day or in the same month instead of monthly? . . .
Observer reporter Liz Crokin spoke to a Wells Fargo employee who works in the fraud department to figure out what was going on.
“We get up to a hundred calls a day from Hillary’s low-income supporters complaining about multiple unauthorized charges,” the employee, who asked to remain anonymous, told Crokin. The source added that they had not received any calls about the Trump campaign and donations.
The source said this has been going on since the spring, and that the campaign stops after it has taken a little less than $100 from a one-time donor.
“We don’t investigate fraudulent charges unless they are over $100,” the source said. “The Clinton campaign knows this, that’s why we don’t see any charges over the $100 amount, they’ll stop the charges just below $100. We’ll see her campaign overcharge donors by $20, $40 or $60 but never more than $100.” Continue Reading
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Despite efforts to figure whether they were in a Catholic or Protestant service, local parishioners were left baffled after an “animated” man wearing vestments put on a head mic and began pacing back and forth as he delivered his sermon.
“The man looked like a priest and I was quite certain I was in a Catholic Church,” said longtime parishioner Joyce Parlin who had no clue as to what the hell was going on. “But he kept pacing back and forth, ending each statement with a ‘can I get an amen?’ No one was exactly sure what he was asking for. I overheard one gentleman respond, ‘yes, I suppose,’ but the priest or pastor or whatever he was kept desperately asking if he could get more amens.”
Parlin went on to add that the priest or pastor or whatever the heck he was continually used words like “fellowship” and “ministry” during his sermon, words, Parlin admitted, she had never heard before.
“He also used the phrase ‘saved by the Blood of the Lamb,’ which I suppose is some sort of Christian take on the TV show ‘Saved by the Bell.’ Hell, I don’t know.”
At press time, the band has begun singing praise a worship as beach balls are being thrown to and fro, confirming that the event is a Life Teen Mass.
Something for the weekend. The Radetzky March. Written in 1848 by Johann Strauss Senior, the march celebrated Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, the bright light of the Austrian Army in the first half of the nineteenth century. Radetzky served seventy years in the Austrian Army and was winning battles into his eighties. A perhaps apocryphal story tells that the Austrian Emperor would frequently settle Radetzky’s debts. When some courtiers asked the Emperor why he did this, the Emperor shrugged and said it was cheaper than losing a war! The sprightly march has been a favorite in America and around the globe since its debut.
In 50 years of observing politics I have never seen a politician hand her adversary such a powerful weapon as Hillary Clinton did when she damned 20% of the American people as deplorables. In that one remark she summarized the leftist contempt for Americans who stubbornly refuse to submit to leftist shibboleths, and she poured gasoline on the anger of half our population who are sick of being treated as enemies in their own nation.
I’ll tell you what stands between us and the Greeks. Two thousand years of human suffering stands between us! Christ on His Cross stands between us!
Michelangelo, Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
Popular historian Tom Holland, whose work I have admired, writes how his study of history led him back to Christianity:
By the time I came to read Edward Gibbon and the other great writers of the Enlightenment, I was more than ready to accept their interpretation of history: that the triumph of Christianity had ushered in an “age of superstition and credulity”, and that modernity was founded on the dusting down of long-forgotten classical values. My childhood instinct to think of the biblical God as the po-faced enemy of liberty and fun was rationalised. The defeat of paganism had ushered in the reign of Nobodaddy, and of all the crusaders, inquisitors and black-hatted puritans who had served as his acolytes. Colour and excitement had been drained from the world. “Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean,” Swinburne wrote, echoing the apocryphal lament of Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome. “The world has grown grey from thy breath.” Instinctively, I agreed.
So, perhaps it was no surprise that I should have continued to cherish classical antiquity as the period that most stirred and inspired me. When I came to write my first work of history, Rubicon, I chose a subject that had been particularly close to the hearts of the philosophes: the age of Cicero. The theme of my second, Persian Fire, was one that even in the 21st century was serving Hollywood, as it had served Montaigne and Byron, as an archetype of the triumph of liberty over despotism: the Persian invasions of Greece.
The years I spent writing these studies of the classical world – living intimately in the company of Leonidas and of Julius Caesar, of the hoplites who had died at Thermopylae and of the legionaries who had triumphed at Alesia – only confirmed me in my fascination: for Sparta and Rome, even when subjected to the minutest historical inquiry, did not cease to seem possessed of the qualities of an apex predator. They continued to stalk my imaginings as they had always done – like a tyrannosaur.
Yet giant carnivores, however wondrous, are by their nature terrifying. The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics, and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value. As such, the founding conviction of the Enlightenment – that it owed nothing to the faith into which most of its greatest figures had been born – increasingly came to seem to me unsustainable.
“Every sensible man,” Voltaire wrote, “every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.” Rather than acknowledge that his ethical principles might owe anything to Christianity, he preferred to derive them from a range of other sources – not just classical literature, but Chinese philosophy and his own powers of reason. Yet Voltaire, in his concern for the weak and oppressed, was marked more enduringly by the stamp of biblical ethics than he cared to admit. His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian.
“We preach Christ crucified,” St Paul declared, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” He was right. Nothing could have run more counter to the most profoundly held assumptions of Paul’s contemporaries – Jews, or Greeks, or Romans. The notion that a god might have suffered torture and death on a cross was so shocking as to appear repulsive. Familiarity with the biblical narrative of the Crucifixion has dulled our sense of just how completely novel a deity Christ was. In the ancient world, it was the role of gods who laid claim to ruling the universe to uphold its order by inflicting punishment – not to suffer it themselves.
Today, even as belief in God fades across the West, the countries that were once collectively known as Christendom continue to bear the stamp of the two-millennia-old revolution that Christianity represents. It is the principal reason why, by and large, most of us who live in post-Christian societies still take for granted that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering. It is why we generally assume that every human life is of equal value. In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian.
Go here to read the rest. As faithful readers of this blog know, I love history. The story of Man absolutely fascinates and enthralls me. Stephen Vincent Benet put it well in The Devil and Daniel Webster:
And he wasn’t pleading for any one person any more, though his voice rang like an organ. He was telling the story and the failures and the endless journey of mankind. They got tricked and trapped and bamboozled, but it was a great journey. And no demon that was ever foaled could know the inwardness of it—it took a man to do that.
In that grand story, amidst the great parade of human events, divinity enters in with Christ. His impact on history is beyond description. Atheist H.G. Wells summed it up:
“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”
Some recent historians attempt to replace BC and AD with the ludicrous Before the Common Era, BCE, and Common Era, CE, attempting to ignore that the only reason we have a “Common Era” is because of Christ. Christ is the dividing point of history, and only fools deny it.
The Pope has agreed to serve as a mediator between the Venezuelan regime and the opposition:
The Vatican responded to a letter requesting his help from the secretary-general of UNASUR, Ernesto Samper, and former presidents Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, Martin Torrijos of Panama and Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic.
The Vatican’s response, published on Wednesday, says the pope hopes the Venezuelan people can begin a dialogue in an atmosphere of mutual trust and that, “Those who are directly involved in the destiny of the country, by overpassing rivalries and political hostility, can recognize each other as brothers.”
It’s not yet known when any talks will take place. The Venezuelan opposition had asked for such mediation as part of a series of requests sent July 7 to the government of Nicolas Maduro.
The Vatican’s letter states that the mediation of the pope is subject to both the government and the opposition requesting it directly “once they have made a firm decision to formally initiate dialogue.”
Go here to read the rest. If mediation does occur PopeWatch hopes that the Pope takes to heart this letter of the Venezuelan Bishops:
Pastoral exhortation ethical and spiritual renewal tackle the crisis
ETHICS AND SPIRITUAL RENEWAL IN THE CRISIS
1. With deep and renewed hope in God, at the beginning of this year 2015 the Bishops of Venezuela salute all Venezuelans, and lift our prayers to God for the welfare and peace of the country. In the midst of the problems that beset us, we have seen in Christmas light of Jesus, our Divine Savior (Luke 2: 9), who encourages us to go forward, faithful to his word, to build a better world. Trusting again we share with our people some concerns about the current situation, to help resolve the crisis we face.
IN THE MIDST OF A GENERAL CRISIS
2. The first part of 2014 was marked by strong political and social upheaval. At this time the bishops strongly express our rejection of all violence, whatever its origin and authors, as she was a balance of 43 dead and many injured, which we deplore without distinction of social or political groups; denounce the excessive use of force in the suppression of protests and the detention of thousands of people, many of them still in prison or subject to filing criminal courts or other restrictive measures of liberty; and we express our condolences and solidarity with the victims and their families. There are numerous reports of human rights violations including torture of detainees, which must be addressed and punished the perpetrators of these crimes.
3. That grave crisis raised the need for dialogue between government leaders, opposition and other sectors. Thanks, among other things, called the Pope Francis and participation of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop. Aldo Giordano, he began a dialogue which unfortunately was not the first meetings.
4. This situation has been joined in recent months generalized anxiety of the people by the economic crisis that we suffer, as is subjected unseen difficulties to access basic necessities. A huge external debt, which jeopardizes the future of Venezuelans, the unbridled inflation, devaluation of our currency, smuggling mining and commodity shortages have led to the increasing impoverishment of large sectors of the population, particularly those with fewer resources economic. This crisis is compounded by administrative corruption, centralism, looting the treasury currency, the recent decline in oil prices, and the ineffectiveness of the measures and plans being implemented by the Government to address it.
5. We also have a situation of worsening social violence. Offensive language, the systematic exclusion to any contrary opinion, incite fanaticism and irrationality. The crisis of public insecurity is intolerable. Unfortunately the efforts and programs developed by the government to control this scourge have failed. To this add serious problems in the health field, such as viral epidemics unaddressed efficiently, lack of medicines, medical supplies and equipment throughout the country. Moreover, the death of over forty inmates in the prison of Uribana reveals a tragic situation in our prison system should be reformed completely.
A WRONG WAY
6. The greatest problem and the cause of the general crisis, as we have noted elsewhere, it is the decision of the national government and other public bodies to impose a political–economic system of socialist Marxist or communist. This system is totalitarian and centralist, establishes state control over all aspects of life of citizens and public and private institutions. Also threaten freedom and rights of individuals and associations and has led to oppression and ruin to all countries that have applied.
The worst lesson that can be taught a man is to rely upon others and to whine over his sufferings.
Theodore Roosevelt, January 1897
It is interesting how much that passes for liberalism these days is merely dressed up snobbishness where people with lots of money can look down their noses at people they deem “poor white trash”. It is no accident, as Marxists used to say, that Hillary made her condemnation of 20% of the American people at a fundraising event to the cheers and laughter of the Hollywood glitterati and assorted fat cats. Poor whites are one of the few safe groups to hate, and what is the point of having a great deal of money unless one can feel free to dump vials of loathing on those near the bottom of the economic ladder?
Daniel Henninger at The Wall Street Journal gets this aspect of our politics, an aspect rarely spoken of, but blindingly obvious:
As with the irrepressible email server, Mrs. Clinton’s handling of her infirmity—”I feel great,” the pneumonia-infected candidate said while hugging a little girl—deepened the hole of distrust she lives in. At the same time, her dismissal, at Barbra Streisand’s LGBT fundraiser, of uncounted millions of Americans as deplorables had the ring of genuine belief.
Perhaps sensing that public knowledge of what she really thinks could be a political liability, Mrs. Clinton went on to describe “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them . . . and they’re just desperate for change.”
She is of course describing the people in Charles Murray’s recent and compelling book on cultural disintegration among the working class, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” This is indeed the bedrock of the broader Trump base.
Mrs. Clinton is right that they feel the system has let them down. There is a legitimate argument over exactly when the rising digital economy started transferring income away from blue-collar workers and toward the “creative class” of Google and Facebook employees, no few of whom are smug progressives who think the landmass seen from business class between San Francisco and New York is pocked with deplorable, phobic Americans. Naturally, they’ll vote for the status quo, which is Hillary.
But in the eight years available to Barack Obama to do something about what rankles the lower-middle class—white, black or brown—the non-employed and underemployed grew. A lot of them will vote for Donald Trump because they want a radical mid-course correction. Which Mrs. Clinton isn’t and never will be.
This is not the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton. The progressive Democrats, a wholly public-sector party, have disconnected from the realities of the private economy, which exists as a mysterious revenue-producing abstraction. Hillary’s comments suggest they now see much of the population has a cultural and social abstraction.
To repeat: “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.”
Those are all potent words. Or once were. The racism of the Jim Crow era was ugly, physically cruel and murderous. Today, progressives output these words as reflexively as a burp. What’s more, the left enjoys calling people Islamophobic or homophobic. It’s bullying without personal risk.
Donald Trump’s appeal, in part, is that he cracks back at progressive cultural condescension in utterly crude terms. Nativists exist, and the sky is still blue. But the overwhelming majority of these people aren’t phobic about a modernizing America. They’re fed up with the relentless, moral superciliousness of Hillary, the Obamas, progressive pundits and 19-year-old campus activists.
Evangelicals at last week’s Values Voter Summit said they’d look past Mr. Trump’s personal résumé. This is the reason. It’s not about him.
The moral clarity that drove the original civil-rights movement or the women’s movement has degenerated into a confused moral narcissism. One wonders if even some of the people in Mrs. Clinton’s Streisandian audience didn’t feel discomfort at the ease with which the presidential candidate slapped isms and phobias on so many people. Continue Reading
One of the interesting aspects of the Vatican since Vatican II is the overall poor job that the Popes have done in leading the Catholic Church, with the partial exception of John Paul II, and, to a lesser extent, Pope Benedict, and the attention that the Vatican has paid to matters in which clerics have no special competence. No where is this more the case that in the area of economics, where Catholics who know something about the dismal science have to blush with shame at most of the droppings from the Vatican on that subject.
These musings usually read as if they were parodies written by someone imitating Saint Thomas More writing about Utopia: texts to belabor current conditions without containing a clue as to how realistic change for the better could possibly be initiated. They usually contain genie-like invocations of the power of the State to control the economy, seemingly oblivious to the disasters such control has often led to throughout history and particularly during the last century. They are usually written in the most cloying, unctuous language frequently deploying BOMFOG at length. The late Nelson Rockefeller used to work into many of his speeches that his chief goal was “The Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God!” To people who know much about his political career, that invocation could be either considered to be a sick joke or a dark comedy. His aides used to refer to these statements as BOMFOG. The more high-falutin’ the language, the closer you need to read any concrete proposals embedded within. Cardinal Turkson, the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and what George Orwell could have done with that title, is a prominent purveyor of this type of humbug:
The event, titled “The Economy according to Pope Francis,” was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the embassies of Germany, the Netherlands and Austria to the Holy See. In his speech, Cardinal Turkson highlighted the pope’s warnings on the “liquid economy,” or an economy judged by the ease with which assets can be converted into cash, and therefore focusing more on finance than on labor and the production of goods. This type of economy, he said, is one that “refuses to put the human being at the centre of economic life.”
“For Pope Francis, a liquid economy goes hand-in-hand with a throwaway culture. This is the ultimate economy of exclusion,” Cardinal Turkson said. The pope’s call for the world to move from a liquid economy to a social economy, one that “invests in persons by creating jobs and providing training,” is a solution that shifts the priority “from economic growth and financial health to human flourishing and the ability to live well,” he said.
To achieve this, the cardinal continued, the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good highlighted in Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” can be applied to the modern market economy. Also citing Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” Cardinal Turkson explained that solidarity can lead to the “creation of a new mindset” that places “priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.”
These principles, he added, also can be applied to global problems “that do not respect national boundaries” and therefore call for a unified response.
“Climate change is an obvious example,” he said. “The same is true for other environmental problems, including the loss of biodiversity, the strain on water supplies, and pollution of the air, the soil, the water.”
Global issues such as unemployment, inequality and environmental degradation can be remedied by moving toward a social market economy, Cardinal Turkson said. However, global and business leaders also must come to terms with the causes of such problems.
While technological advances have improved efficiency, he said, they also have created problems with employment, which is “an essential source of human dignity.” “More and more people are being discarded as machines take up their tasks. And as technology gets more and more advanced, what will a ‘robot economy’ mean for workers?” the cardinal asked. In order to serve the common good, Cardinal Turkson said, businesses must “put the creation of employment ahead of a fixation of profits.”
Government policies that provide tax cuts to the wealthy while “fraying social safety nets and weakening unions,” he said, also have contributed to a growing inequality that has given the wealthy “too much influence over policy.”
Societies that become too unequal, he added, “lose a sense of shared purpose necessary for deliberating on the common good.”
A new social economy, he said, must be respectful of nature instead of relying on “old-school industrialisation,” making the world dependent on oil, coal and gas. Extreme pollution, climate change and the destruction of vital ecosystems caused by such industrialisation will continue to push people into extreme poverty “if we fail to act,” he said.
Everyone must “play their part” in ensuring an economy that is sustainable, equal and respectful of human dignity, he said. “Let’s not fall into the trap of assuming that the state alone is responsible for the common good while ‘the business of business is business.'” Continue Reading