1

Cardinal Newman’s Rules for Blogging

 

(I first published this on January 18, 2015.  Time to remind myself again as to how blogging should be conducted.)

 

Blogging can be rough amusement.  I will attempt to keep the Definition of a Gentleman written by Cardinal Newman in 1852 in mind as much as I can and still keep the readers of TAC informed and amused.  It is almost as if Newman could perceive blogging over a century and a third before it began, as  his Definition of a Gentleman is, in part, almost a code of behavior for bloggers.  Here are some rules for blogging I have distilled from it:

Bloggers would do well to keep the following in mind:

1.    His great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd.

2.    He never defends himself by a mere retort.

3.    He has no ears for slander or gossip.

4.    He is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets every thing for the best.

5.    He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out.

6.    From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend.

7.    He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults.

8.    He is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice.

9.    He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles.

10.   If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blundering discourtesy of better, perhaps, but less educated minds; who, like blunt weapons, tear and hack instead of cutting clean, who mistake the point in argument, waste their strength on trifles, misconceive their adversary, and leave the question more involved than they find it.

11.   He may be right or wrong in his opinion, but he is too clear-headed to be unjust.

12.  He is as simple as he is forcible, and as brief as he is decisive.

13.  He throws himself into the minds of his opponents, he accounts for their mistakes.

14.  He knows the weakness of human reason as well as its strength, its province and its limits.

15.  He will be too profound and large-minded to ridicule religion or to act against it.

16.  He respects piety and devotion; he even supports institutions as venerable, beautiful, or useful, to which he does not assent.

0

PopeWatch: Free Nations

The Pope doesn’t think much of loyalty to one’s country:

“The State cannot be conceived of as the sole and exclusive guardian of the common good,” the Pope told participants in a workshop organized by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, “not allowing intermediate bodies of civil society to express, in freedom, their full potential.”

“This would this be a violation of the principle of subsidiarity which, combined with that of solidarity, constitutes a cornerstone of the social doctrine of the Church,” he said.

“The challenge here,” Francis added, “is how to bring individual rights into accord with the common good.”

“I think the position of civil society is to ‘pull’ the State and the market forward so they will rethink their raison-d’être and their way of working,” he said.

Last February, the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that the Holy See is concerned over growing populist and nationalist movements, both in Europe and in the United States, adding that many of them “are born of fear, which is not a good counsellor.”

The Cardinal also recalled comments by Pope Francis, saying that “there is a risk of history repeating itself.”

In March, Pope Francis addressed more than 20 European heads of state, calling solidarity “the most effective antidote to modern forms of populism,” while denouncing nationalism as a new strain of selfishness.

In his speech, the Pope advocated a stronger, consolidated Europe against the rising tide of populist movements.

The pontiff contrasted solidarity, which draw us “closer to our neighbors,” with populism, which is “the fruit of a selfishness that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and ‘looking beyond’ their own narrow vision.”

“There is a need to start thinking once again as Europeans,” Francis said, “so as to avert the opposite dangers of a dreary uniformity or the triumph of particularisms.” Continue Reading

1

October 22, 1962: Cuban Missile Crisis Speech

 

For the lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis is plain: Strength prevents war; weakness invites it. We need a commander-in-chief who understands that — and who won’t leave us facing a foe who thinks he doesn’t.

Arthur Herman

 

 

 

 

 

The world came very close to nuclear war just over half a century back.  The above video is of the speech that President Kennedy gave fifty-five years ago on October 22, 1962.  Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in placing nuclear missiles in Cuba brought the world to the brink.  The crisis was ultimately resolved with the removal of the Soviet missiles in exchange for two  agreements between the US and the Soviet Union:  1.  No invasion of Cuba by the US and 2.  The removal of obsolete American Jupiter nuclear missiles from Turkey and Southern Italy.  Unsurprisingly the US kept secret the removal of the Jupiter missiles.  Surprisingly the Soviets also kept mum about the removal of the Jupiter missiles which led to the perception abroad and within the Soviet Union that Khrushchev had lost his confrontation with Kennedy, and paved the way for the Central Committee coup led by Leonid Brezhnev which toppled  Khrushchev from power in October 1964.  Here is the text of the speech: Continue Reading

4

Rendering Unto God and Caesar

The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
“Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion,
for you do not regard a person’s status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that he said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”

Matthew 22: 15-21

 

While He was present on Earth, Jesus gave us God’s view of our mortal condition, and it often startled those who heard of it.  Typical was the trap lain for him involving paying tribute to Caesar.  If Christ had said pay no tribute, he would swiftly have been arrested by the Romans and condemned as a rebel.  Tell the people to pay the tribute, and He would have been regarded as a collaborator, one of those Jews who sided with the hated Roman rulers.  I assume whoever thought up this trap regarded it as foolproof and perhaps, in human terms, it was.  Jesus however demolished it with contemptuous ease.  He asked to see a Roman denarius, which had the face of Emperor Tiberius.  No doubt this made many Jews in the crowd squirm.  They hated the Romans, but Roman coins were in common usage.  Pious Jews would have hated handling the denarius because it blasphemously asserted that Tiberius was the son of the Divine Augustus, the Senate having proclaimed him a God.  (Ironically Tiberius was personally uneasy with the idea of being a God and the Senate did not proclaim his divinity after his death.)

One can imagine the anticipation with which the crowd awaited what was about to happen.  Christ had said almost nothing about the Roman occupation, as if it did not exist, or was simply too inconsequential for Him to notice.  Now He was being forced to take a stand on the central political issue of Jewish life.

Jesus inquires whose face is on the coin.  No doubt his interlocutor thought He was playing for time:  “Caesar.”

The words that Christ then spoke are obscured by our familiarity with them.  Israel had no tradition of separating religion from secular rule.  The rulers of Israel were judged as good or bad depending upon whether they had adhered to the worship of Yahweh.  The Kings of Israel and Judah had often been in severe conflict with prophets sent by God.  The Maccabees  were leaders of a religious revolt against the Seleucid Empire.  Herod had been condemned for his many atrocities and impieties.  The Jews longed for a Messiah to free them from the rule of Rome and bring about a Jewish utopia where God would rule His people.

Thus when Christ told the crowd to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar and unto God the things that are God, he presented them with the stunning idea that there was a sphere of life which was a secular ruler’s, outside of the sphere of existence that was God’s.  We have been working out the implications of this divine revolutionary idea ever since.

3

October 21, 1879: Thomas Edison Invents the Incandescent Light Bulb

 

 

“We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”

        Thomas Edison, 1879

 

 

Ah, Thomas Edison, that paragon of hard work and genius.  Electric lights had been experimented with since 1802.  Making a commercially viable light bulb however, eluded the numerous scientists working on the problem until Edison succeeded.  This was the type of problem that Edison excelled at:  one that required a bit of inspiration and a large amount of perspiration.
Beginning in 1878 Edison began work on a commercially viable incandescent electric lamp.  He decided that for indoor home use the light source had to operate on low voltage.  The idea of running current through a vacuum tube to produce light had been around for decades.  With improved pumping equipment Edison was able to make a better vacuum tube, and then his research centered on a long lasting filament.  Edison spoke about the process in 1890:
I speak without exaggeration when I say that I have constructed 3,000 different theories in connection with the electric light, each one of them reasonable and apparently likely to be true. Yet only in two cases did my experiments prove the truth of my theory. My chief difficulty was in constructing the carbon filament. . . . Every quarter of the globe was ransacked by my agents, and all sorts of the queerest materials used, until finally the shred of bamboo, now utilized by us, was settled upon.
Carbonized bamboo filaments would burn for 1200 hours.  A new age of light commenced.
Patent battles were inevitable with so many other inventors working on the light bulb.  Edison, ever the shrewd businessman, prevailed with a mixture of legal fights, purchasing patents, going into joint ventures with competitors, and buying other competitors out.  Edison’s business skills were as brilliant as his light bulb.

24

Banning and Moderation Policy

(In light of the banning of Phil, I thought I would dust off, and update, this post from 2012.)

TAC is a group blog and each contributor normally makes moderation and banning decisions in regard to their own threads.  When the blog started nine years ago I was initially somewhat hesitant to use either moderation or banning but that has changed over the years.  Here is some explanation of my current policies regarding both.

Moderation is automatically applied to anyone who has never left a comment at the blog.  This of course is a mechanism to prevent drive by trolls from launching a pure insult comment.  After the initial comment is approved the commenter is taken off moderation and may post freely.

What gets someone placed on moderation?

Direct insults aimed at another commenter.  I normally allow some lee-way if a commenter is directing an insult at me, at least if it is witty, although my patience tends to be limited.  A repeat offense may result in a ban.

Outrageous comments.  (Yes, T.Shaw I am looking at you!)  These include threatening to shoot anyone, a comment filled with vulgarities, etc.  I have T.Shaw on permanent moderation in this category, although I suspect he rather likes it as it enhances his bad boy of the blog image.  Happy to oblige T.Shaw.  (I have taken T.Shaw on and off moderation over the years.  I think it has become a game with us!)

Anti-Catholic bigotry.  This blog was not set up to give anti-Catholics a forum.

Riding a hobby-horse too frequently.  Some commenters will insist upon bringing every discussion around to their hobby-horse issue.  Do that too frequently and moderation awaits.

Wall of Text.  No, you may not engage in text spam that bears little relationship to the subject of a post.

Getting on Don’s nerves.  I blog for fun, and commenters who take the fun away will find themselves in moderation.

This is not a comprehensive list, but the above are the major categories.

Banning from the site occurs in the following situations.

Drive by trolls.  Normally you do not get to see the comments and I simply ban the authors as a matter of course.

Anti-Catholic bigots.  Banning is for those who either do not take the hint from a stay in moderation, or who make a comment so vilely anti-Catholic that it is a waste of time keeping them around.

Anti-Semites and Anti-Blacks. I do not wish to keep them from their Klan rally.

Disturbed individuals.  If a comment indicates to my untrained eye that someone is mentally disturbed they will be banned, mostly since taking verbal potshots at a deranged individual is not sporting.

Conspiracy mongers. If you are certain that the Illuminati, the Tri-Lateralists, the Cattle Mutilators or (insert name of group) are behind the scenes pulling the strings, we will not keep you from sharing your insight on other sites.

Being a persistent pest.  Longtime readers may recall the Catholic Anarchist who was banned after a year’s attempt at turning every thread into a fight between him and all and sundry.  That got old fast and it was a violation of the first commandment of blogging:  Thou Shalt Not Bore!

Attack trolls.  If your goal in life is to start constant fights on the internet, this is not cyber fight club.

F-bombs.  Constant use of profanity is boring and will not be tolerated.

Violating the rules against acting crazy on the internet.  Go here to this fine post by Paul Zummo to read the rules.

Not a comprehensive list of the factors I take into consideration when banning someone, but most of them.  I hope that no one I ban takes it personally or to heart.  Banning from a blog to my mind is equivalent to being gummed by an elderly toothless poodle who is attempting to tell you that your presence is no longer desired on her turf.  It doesn’t really hurt, but it is time to move on!

Banning and moderation help me prune the comboxes to make them more entertaining to our readers.  To me, the comboxes are just as important as my posts, and I pay close attention to the comments as a result.

We have a great stable of regular commenters at TAC.  I usually find your comments insightful, frequently witty and sometimes challenging.  You have helped make this blog the success it is, and I thank you from the bottom of my cold lawyer’s heart!

3

PopeWatch: Pope as Cruel and Unusual Punishment

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

 

Two prisoners in Bologna, Italy escaped during their lunch with Pope Francis yesterday, reportedly fleeing back to their jail cells after what they called a “harrowing experience.”

The two inmates, who are serving time at a social reintegration facility in Castelfranco Emilia, told EOTT that, though the few bites of lasagna they ate before ditching the lunch were amazing, they just “couldn’t stomach” another minute listening to His Holiness apologize for everything the Church has ever done.

“Don’t get me wrong, it is quite an experience to meet the Pope,” said inmate Giovanni Rotunda. “But he kept bowing to me and asking me to pray for him. By the tenth time I was really beginning to miss the prison food.”

Fellow inmate Dominic Bapideeboopi told EOTT that Pope Francis spent nearly half an hour explaining why the death penalty was contrary to Church teaching.

“I’m like, ‘Dude, let me eat.’ Of course I didn’t say that out loud, but the thing is is that I was just trying to have a pleasant afternoon, and to be honest, I’m a prisoner and I still believe in the death penalty! For goodness sakes, between all the praying for him, apologies on behalf of the Church, his near constant request to wash my feet, I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

That’s when, Bapideeboopi said, he and Rotunda looked at each other and nodded.

“That was all it took. We knew we just had maybe another hour or two there, but life is short—and we’d rather be spending our time in jail trying not to get shanked than being spiritually shanked by odd catechesis, if you know what I’m saying.” Continue Reading

7

October 20, 1944: General MacArthur Returns

 

Mine eyes have seen MacArthur
With a Bible on his knee,
He is pounding out communiqués
For guys like you and me,
And while possibly a rumor now,
Someday ’twill be a fact,
That the Lord will hear a deep voice
Say, “Move over God, it’s Mac!”

Anonymous Marine on Corregidor (1942)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most controversial of American commanders in World War II, MacArthur has always roused strong emotion.  Reviled by some as a supreme egotist and an overrated general, and hailed by others as the greatest general in American history, MacArthur will be fought over in history books from now until Doomsday, a fate which I think would not have displeased him.  However, I suspect critics and admirers alike can agree on one thing.  Seventy-three years ago, October 20, 1944, MacArthur had the supreme moment of his life as he began the liberation of the Philippines: Continue Reading

2

PopeWatch: Luther

Father Z brings us this unsurprising news:

One of Pope Francis’ favorites of the Italian bishops, personally raised by the pontifical hand to power in the episcopal conference, Bp. Nunzio Galantino, gave a talk at my old school, the Pontifical Lateran University (“The Pope’s University”) for their LutherFest2017, sponsored by the theology faculty.

I read in Il Timone

“I’ve deployed against all the papists, against the Pope and indulgences but only by preaching the word of God.  And when I was sleeping the word of God was working such things that the Pope is now fallen.”  [Bp.] Nunzio Galantino, Secretary General of the Italian Episcopate, read at full voice this passage from Luther which for 5 centuries was considered offensive to Catholics.  “The reform started by Martin Luther 500 years ago was an event of the Holy Spirit“, the bishop affirmed while speaking at the Pontifical Lateran University to a conference promoted by the Pope’s school to celebrate the anniversary.

“The Reform”, Galantino underscored, “responds to the truth expressed in the formula ecclesia semper reformanda.”  “It was the same Luther,” the Secretary of the CI reminded, “who didn’t consider himself the author of the Reform, writing: “while I was sleeping, God was reforming the Church.”  “Even today,” the prelate commented, “the Church needs a reform.  And today, too, it can be fulfilled by God alone.”

[…]

One thing I’ll agree on with Galantino is that the Church is in need of a reform.

Go here to read the comments.

 

30

Why Trump

Tucker Carlson gets it:

 

 

It turns out the GOP wasn’t simply out of touch with its voters; the party had no idea who its voters were or what they believed. For decades, party leaders and intellectuals imagined that most Republicans were broadly libertarian on economics and basically neoconservative on foreign policy. That may sound absurd now, after Trump has attacked nearly the entire Republican catechism (he savaged the Iraq War and hedge fund managers in the same debate) and been greatly rewarded for it, but that was the assumption the GOP brain trust operated under. They had no way of knowing otherwise. The only Republicans they talked to read the Wall Street Journal too.

On immigration policy, party elders were caught completely by surprise. Even canny operators like Ted Cruz didn’t appreciate the depth of voter anger on the subject. And why would they? If you live in an affluent ZIP code, it’s hard to see a downside to mass low-wage immigration. Your kids don’t go to public school. You don’t take the bus or use the emergency room for health care. No immigrant is competing for your job. (The day Hondurans start getting hired as green energy lobbyists is the day my neighbors become nativists.) Plus, you get cheap servants, and get to feel welcoming and virtuous while paying them less per hour than your kids make at a summer job on Nantucket. It’s all good.

Apart from his line about Mexican rapists early in the campaign, Trump hasn’t said anything especially shocking about immigration. Control the border, deport lawbreakers, try not to admit violent criminals — these are the ravings of a Nazi? This is the “ghost of George Wallace” that a Politico piece described last August? A lot of Republican leaders think so. No wonder their voters are rebelling.

Truth Is Not Only A Defense, It’s Thrilling

When was the last time you stopped yourself from saying something you believed to be true for fear of being punished or criticized for saying it? If you live in America, it probably hasn’t been long. That’s not just a talking point about political correctness. It’s the central problem with our national conversation, the main reason our debates are so stilted and useless. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t have the words to describe it. You can’t even think about it clearly.

This depressing fact made Trump’s political career. In a country where almost everyone in public life lies reflexively, it’s thrilling to hear someone say what he really thinks, even if you believe he’s wrong. It’s especially exciting when you suspect he’s right.

A temporary ban on Muslim immigration? That sounds a little extreme (meaning nobody else has said it recently in public). But is it? Millions of Muslims have moved to Western Europe over the past 50 years, and a sizable number of them still haven’t assimilated. Instead, they remain hostile and sometimes dangerous to the cultures that welcomed them. By any measure, that experiment has failed. What’s our strategy for not repeating it here, especially after San Bernardino—attacks that seemed to come out of nowhere? Invoke American exceptionalism and hope for the best? Before Trump, that was the plan. Continue Reading

9

John Kelly Press Conference

Hattip to an old ROTC buddy of mine, retired Lieutenant Colonel Peter Dubravec.

 

 

 

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Thursday he was “stunned and broken-hearted” after Rep. Frederica Wilson listened in on a conversation between the widow of a slain U.S. soldier and then criticized President Trump’s attempts to console her.

“There’s no perfect way to make that phone call,” said Kelly, who appeared at a regular White House press briefing. “It’s not the phone call parents, family members are looking forward to,” he said.

Kelly said the comments Trump made to Army Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, were similar to those spoken to him after his son was killed in Afghanistan. “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed,” Kelly said. “He knew what he was getting into when he joined” the military. “And when he died he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth, his friends,” said Kelly. “That’s what the president tried to say to the four families yesterday.”

Go here to read the rest.  In their mad fury against Trump even private calls to grieving families are not off limits by those who pride themselves on being morally superior to Trump.

 

 

 

63

How Many Lights?

Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts explains why the Left wishes to impose conformity to manifest absurdities:

 

We in the Christian West, including the United States, are under assault from a largely Marxist driven, Bolshevik inspired revolution. That revolution long ago stole the hearts and minds of our ruling classes, our educators, entertainers, poets and dreamers. The reasons are too many to get into.

I never went full blown ‘Commie-pinko’ conspiracy until the Transgender issue. That’s when I realized it was just like my friend from the former Soviet Union described. In the USSR, he said, they taught you, among other things, absolute rubbish. Real stupidity. Like squares are round. Something so against all science, religion, common sense, and real life experience that even HBO talk show hosts wouldn’t believe it. The purpose was to get you to submit to something you knew to be false. If you would fight for round squares, if you would ostracize those who refuse to confess the roundness of squares, and you would completely fall behind the state’s insistence that squares are and always have been round, then you’ll fall in line behind anything.

When Obama and the Left hoisted Transgender normality on us, when the usual ‘scientific’ venues changed reality in lockstep with the demands of the Left, and when they went straight to pen and phone to make sure this new round square was obeyed or else, I could no longer deny the obvious.

The joining of the old post-AIDS notion that who we desire to have sex with is a physiological matter, with the idea that our physical bodies are irrelevant to our gender reality, should be the final signal that sets off a giant “Warning, Warning, Danger, Danger!”

Of course Hollywood, the Media, Academia and much of our public institutions are all firmly on board, which makes it tough. Even if Hollywood is in full damage control mode, and attempts are being made to sustain its vital role as crucial member of the propaganda ministry, there is still the lumbering forward. This movement won’t give up any time soon.

At some point, people have to get wise. Whether they do before it’s too late is the only question.

 

Go here to read the rest.  The breaking of the will of one man or an entire population is accomplished by making them accept as true what they know is false:

 

What I didn’t put in the report was that at the end he gave me a choice – between a life of comfort or more torture. All I had to do was to say that I could see five lights when, in fact, there were only four.
You didn’t say it?
No! No. But I was going to. I would have told him anything. Anything at all! But more than that, I believed that I could see five lights.

Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek the Next Generation, Chain of Command

 

5

October 19, 1781: British Surrender at Yorktown

 

After the battle of Monmouth in 1778, the time of large scale battles in the north during the American Revolution came to an end.  The subsequent years were frustrating for Washington as he struggled against a collapsing American economy to keep his army from starving, unable to build up the military power necessary to put New York under siege.  The situation altered in 1781. The French navy achieved temporary control of the waters off Virginia, and Washington secretly marched with 8,000 Continentals and 5,000 French from New York to attack the army of General Cornwallis in Virginia.  Besieged at Yorktown, Cornwallis surrendered his 7,000 men on October 19, 1781.  The War would drag on another two years until the British withdrew from New York under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, but after Yorktown everyone on both sides knew that American independence, against the odds, had been achieved.  Here is the text of Washington’s letter to Congress announcing the victory:

 

Continue Reading

3

Quotes Suitable for Framing: John Harington

 

Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

John Harington

 

 

Oh Mr. Dickinson, I’m surprised at you. You should know that rebellion is always legal in the first person, such as “our rebellion.” It is only in the third person – “their rebellion” – that it is illegal.

Ben Franklin, 1776

25

They Sold US Out

Blockbuster revelations yesterday as to how the Clintons sold out the US to advance Putin’s hunger for American unranium:

 

 

 

These extraordinary revelations, apparently from frustrated FBI agents, were published in The Hill today. The corruption they suggest is extensive:

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

Let that sink in. All of this was known before the Obama/Clinton State Department approved the controversial transfer of US uranium assets to Russia. But the Obama/Holder Justice Department did nothing.

 

Go here to read the rest.  All of this has been revealed before in the book and movie Clinton Cash:

 

 

Go here to The Hill to read the complete story.  When it came to Russia, Trump is being accused of doing what the Clintons had already done:  sell out US interests to Putin.  They did it for the cash.  Benedict Arnold is looking up and muttering that they make him look like a piker.

5

PopeWatch: Vice

Father Gerald Murray at The Catholic Thing reminds us how the Pope is attempting to change doctrine.

 

The claim was widely made during the two Synods on the Family that the innovation of allowing persons living in adulterous second unions to receive Holy Communion, as proposed by Cardinal Kasper and others, was not a change in doctrine, but simply in discipline. I did not believe this to be true then (or now) and, apparently, neither did many of the supporters of this innovation.

The first evidence of that was the seemingly universal refusal to identify these unions as adulterous in fidelity to Christ’s words: “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.” (Lk 16:18) Instead of adulterous these sinful relationships were called “irregular” unions. This tactic reduces Christ’s teaching to the level of a regulation. The use of scare quotes further diminished the stature of Christ’s teaching by casting doubt on whether we should really consider these unions to be irregular at all.

A conference on the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia was recently held at Boston College. Further evidence of the rejection of Christ’s plain teaching on marriage, divorce and adultery is found in the reported comments of two speakers: Professor Cathleen Kaveny and Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J.

Kaveny used curious language to describe Our Lord’s teaching on marital fidelity: “Jesus clearly disfavored adultery.” No, Jesus forbade adultery. One can disfavor things that are good in themselves, but simply do not appeal to one for a variety of reasons. One can never claim as good and right something that God has clearly forbidden.

Kaveny continued: ”It’s clear that he rejects divorce and remarriage as contrary to the original will of God. But nothing in Jesus’ words or conduct demand that the sin involved in divorce and remarriage must be conceptualized as a sin that continues indefinitely, without the possibility of effective repentance.”

Well, the original will of God remains in force unless God himself has indicated otherwise. Jesus clearly reaffirmed the prohibition of divorce and remarriage, harkening back to God’s original plan for man and woman as revealed in the Book of Genesis.

Understanding the sin involved in divorce and remarriage requires making distinctions. The responsibility for the break-up of marital life falls upon one or both parties, depending upon each one’s degree of culpability. The obtaining of a civil divorce is likewise to be evaluated as to the motives and responsibilities involved: is a divorce sought to free one to enter a new union, or is it sought to obtain legal protection of the financial and other interests of the offended spouse and children?

The decision to enter into an adulterous second union, however, is a public violation of the nature of indissoluble Christian marriage, and of one’s wedding vows. It involves the sin of adultery and the public scandal of living in opposition to Christ’s commandments.

 

Go here to read the rest.The stealth change of doctrine that the Pope is seeking to implement in regard to adulterous unions is becoming less stealthy each day.  Alexander Pope aptly described how this papacy operates over three centuries ago:

 

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

 

2

October 17, 1521: Pope Leo X Awards King Henry VIII the Title of Defender of the Faith

Cromwell: In the June of 1521 the King published a book. A theological work. It was called, A Defence of the Seven Sacraments.

More: For which he was named “Defender of the Faith” by His Holiness, the Pope.

Cromwell: By the Bishop of Rome, or do you insist on “pope”?

More: No. “Bishop of Rome” if you like.  It doesn’t alter his authority.

Cromwell: Thank you. You come to the point very readily. What is that authority? For example, in the Church of England…
…what exactly is the Bishop of Rome’s authority?

More: You will find it very ably set out and defended, Master Secretary……in the King’s book.

Cromwell: In the book published under the King’s name, would be more accurate. -You wrote this book.

More: -I wrote no part of it.

Cromwell: I don’t mean you actually held the pen.

More: I answered to my best ability, some points of common law……which the King put to me, as I was bound to do.

Cromwell: Do you deny you instigated it?

More: It was from first to last the King’s own project.

Cromwell: The King says not.

More: The King knows the truth of it. And whatever he may have said to you……he will not give evidence to support this accusation.

Cromwell: Why not?

More: Because evidence is given on oath, and he will not perjure himself. If you don’t know that, then you don’t yet know him.

Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

 

Four hundred and ninety-six years since Pope Leo X bestowed upon King Henry VIII the title of Defender of the Faith for The Defense of The Seven Sacraments, an attack upon Luther.  Henry had well earned the honor.  Of all the initial anti-Lutheran polemics by Catholics, The Defense is head and shoulders the best:

 

Seeing, therefore, he despiseth all men and believes none, he ought not to take it ill if everybody discredit him again.  I am so far from holding any further dispute with him that I almost repent myself of what I have already argued against him.  For what avails it to dispute against one who disagrees with everyone, even with himself?  Who affirms in one place what he denies in another, denying what he presently affirms?  Who, if you object faith, combats by reason; if you touch him with reason, pretends faith?  If you allege philosophers, he flies to Scripture; if you propound Scripture, he trifles with sophistry.  Who is ashamed of nothing, fears none, and thinks himself under no law.  Who contemns the ancient Doctors of the church, and derides the new ones in the highest degree; loads with reproaches the Chief Bishop of the church.  Finally, he so undervalues customs, doctrine, manners, laws, decrees and faith of the church (yea, the whole church itself) that he almost denies there is any such thing as a church, except perhaps such a one as himself makes up of two or three heretics, of whom himself is chief.  .  .  .  

 

Luther thought it was so effective that he wrote a scurrilous attack against Henry, filled with the barnyard insults that Luther specialized in.  Then Saint Thomas More entered the lists and responded in defense of the King.

All of this of course is deeply ironic in light of Henry’s later rebellion against the Church, however when we put our thoughts down in writing they take on a life of their own.  The Defense of the Seven Sacraments has justly retained its popularity down through the centuries with Catholics.  Henry’s successors have kept the title of Defender of the Faith, even though the faith they purport to defend is the not the Faith that Henry resoundingly defended in the book that earned the title.

13

PopeWatch: Francis v. Newman

P.J. Smith notes at First Things how the Pope’s view of development of doctrine clashes with that of Newman:

 

 

These remarks provide an interesting window into how the pope thinks about doctrine, and about his relationship to doctrine. Such windows have been hard to come by since Amoris laetitia was issued in the spring of 2016. Francis has so far refused to answer the dubia submitted by some cardinals about Amoris laetitia. And, while Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the secretary of state, and Gerhard Cardinal Müller, formerly prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, have called for dialogue in the wake of the filial correction released a few weeks ago, it is unlikely that Francis would participate personally in such a process. The speech to the Catechism conference may be, for now, the clearest vision we get from Francis about the developments he favors.

Perhaps showing how closely he follows the debates that have exploded over his various pronouncements, Francis devoted some time in his remarks to demonstrating that his new position on the death penalty is part of a “harmonious development” of doctrine. Francis explains that, when the Church’s traditional doctrine is “clearly contrary” to a “new understanding of Christian truth,” we have a duty to “cease to defend” that doctrine. Francis argues that, today, we understand that any taking of human life is contrary to the dignity of life, and therefore we can now say that it is contrary to the Gospel. The argument is simple enough, but its implications are profound.

How profound? For that we need to turn to Bl. John Henry Newman. The pope’s remarks come just a couple of days after Newman’s feast. It is a little surprising that Francis did not mention Newman, since Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine has long been the locus classicus for an orthodox discussion of the development of doctrine. Or maybe not so surprising. In the Essay, Newman identifies several “notes” (he does not go so far as to call them “tests”) of an authentic development of doctrine. Among these notes is “conservative action” upon a doctrine’s past. Newman writes that a true development “is an addition which illustrates, not obscures, corroborates, not corrects, the body of thought from which it proceeds; and this is its characteristic as contrasted with a corruption.” In other words, Newman tells us that an authentic development will never result in black becoming white or up down.

When Francis talks about doctrine becoming “clearly contrary” to a “new understanding of Christian truth,” it seems that he rejects Newman’s notion that a development of doctrine is conservative of the doctrine’s past. He seems to believe that authentic developments can correct, not corroborate, the body of thought from which they proceed. Perhaps this approach reflects the principle articulated in Evangelii gaudium, the programmatic exhortation he issued in 2013: “Realities are more important than ideas.” Recall that Francis taught that “angelic forms of purity,” “objectives more ideal than real,” and “ethical systems bereft of kindness” were all “means of masking reality.” One could, therefore, read Francis’s theory of development as an implementation of this principle. Realities can change, and therefore the idea can become contrary to the reality. Under these circumstances, the idea—especially if it is an objective more ideal than real—gives way.

 

Go here to read the rest.

 

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, among his many other services to the Church, clarified the concept of development of doctrine as opposed to corruptions of doctrine that occasionally fasten on the Church and are shed off by the Church over time.

Newman posited seven notes, I would call them tests, for determining whether something is a development of doctrine or a corruption.

1.  Preservation of Type

2.  Continuity of Principles

3.  Power of Assimilation

4.  Logical Sequence

5.  Anticipation of Its Future

6.  Conservative Action upon Its Past

7.  Chronic Vigour

Each of these notes are explained by Newman in detail.  The concepts aren’t simple either in theory or in application, at least to PopeWatch, but Newman does a first rate job of explaining them.  The note that has always fascinated PopeWatch is number six, no doubt because PopeWatch has always found history fascinating, and the history of the Church especially so.

Newman is quite clear that under the Sixth Note a Development of Doctrine does not reverse what has gone before:

A true development, then, may be described as one which is conservative of the course of antecedent developments being really those antecedents and something besides them: it is an addition which illustrates, not obscures, corroborates, not corrects, the body of thought from which it proceeds; and this is its characteristic as contrasted with a corruption.

As developments which are preceded by definite indications have a fair presumption in their favour, so those which do but contradict and reverse the course of doctrine which has been developed before them, and out of which they spring, are certainly corrupt; for a corruption is a development in that very stage in which it ceases to illustrate, and begins to disturb, the acquisitions gained in its previous history.

Go here to read more about Newman’s seven notes regarding development of doctrine.

1

Dr. Johnson and His Dictionary

 

 

In honor of National Dictionary Day.

 

 

Dr. Samuel Johnson was a curmudgeon of the first order:  he hated Americans, Scots and any number of other groups.  A writer of genius in his own day, much of his writing has not held up well.  ( I defy anyone, for example, to read Rasselass without nodding off.)  A pensioner of King George III, his pen was bought and paid for, and he entered the lists against the King’s enemies in the pamphlet wars of Eighteenth Century England, as he did against the rebellious American colonists.  Having said all that, I do honor Johnson for two reasons.

First, because of his quick wit, often conveyed to us courtesy of James Boswell, Johnson’s companion and biographer.  A few samples:

Patriotism having become one of our topicks, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone, an apophthegm, at which many will start: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.

Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.

No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.

Wine makes a man more pleased with himself; I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others.

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!

Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging. (Johnson, referring to Americans.)

It has been a common saying of physicians in England, that a cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.

I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” Continue Reading

42

PopeWatch: Ed Feser

Ed Feser, who has recently written a book on the traditional Catholic teaching on the death penalty, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed:  A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, looks at the current attempt by Pope Francis to reverse Church teaching:

 

“The Church teaches that scripture is divinely inspired, that it cannot teach error where matters of faith and morals are concerned, and that it must always be interpreted in the way the Church traditionally has understood it. But many passages of scripture clearly teach that capital punishment is legitimate, and have always been interpreted by the Church as teaching this,” he said. 

Both the Old and New Testaments indicate that the death penalty can be legitimate. For instance, Genesis 9:6 states: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” Or again, St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans teaches that the state “does not bear the sword in vain (but) is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.”

Feser said previous popes have “consistently” reaffirmed the legitimacy of capital punishment and have “insisted that accepting its legitimacy is a requirement of Catholic orthodoxy.”

One such pope would be Pius XII, who in 1955 defended the authority of the State to punish crimes, even with the death penalty. He argued that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture because “the coercive power of legitimate human authority” is based on “the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.”  

“Even Pope St. John Paul II taught that capital punishment is not always and absolutely wrong,” said Feser. 

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his classic defense of capital punishment in the Summa Theologica, argued that “if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good.” 

The Catholic professor said the Church also has “always taught that popes are obligated to preserve traditional teaching and never to contradict it.” 

“When Pope Francis says that capital punishment is ‘in itself contrary to the Gospel,’ and ‘inadmissible … no matter how serious the crime,’ he seems to be contradicting traditional teaching,” he said.

“If that is what he is doing, then he is flirting with doctrinal error, which is possible when a pope is not speaking ex cathedra, even though it is extremely rare. There are only a handful of cases in Church history of popes who are possibly guilty of this, the best known cases being those of Pope Honorius and Pope John XXII,” he added.

Feser said that if Pope Francis is reversing past teaching on capital punishment, then he is “implicitly saying that every previous pope and scripture itself were wrong.”

“This would completely undermine the authority of the Church, and of Pope Francis himself. For if the Church could be that wrong for that long about something that serious, why trust anything else she says? And if all previous popes have been so badly mistaken, why should we think Pope Francis is right?” he said.  Continue Reading

12

October 16, 1909: So Close to the United States

Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.

Porfirio Diaz

Of all the colorful figures that populate Mexican history, few are more colorful than Porfirio Diaz.   The scion of a devout Catholic family with ambitions to become a priest, he left the seminary to volunteer for service in 1846 in the Mexican War.  Finding life congenial as a soldier, he never returned to the seminary.  In 1846 he first met Benito Juarez and became a Liberal under his example and influence.  His career until he became President intermingled politics with the military, and he served in both the Reform War and the struggle against the French, in which he became one of the chief commanders of President Juarez.  He came to the Presidency in 1877 after leading a successful rebellion, one of several rebellions he led during his career.  He would in effect rule Mexico until the Mexican Revolution in 1910, a period known as the Porfiriato.  Mingling corruption with brute force, Diaz gave Mexico an authoritarian government that spurred rapid economic development.  Diaz remained officially an anti-clerical Liberal, but privately he was a Catholic, and under his regime the anti-clerical laws were largely a dead letter.  After the chaos that was the hallmark of Mexico in the Nineteenth Century, Diaz gave the country stability and peace.  He was a dictator but a shrewd, competent one, skillful at balancing factions and always aware that public opinion was perhaps more important in a dictatorship than in a republic.  In many ways he strikes me as a precursor of Francisco Franco, although the differences in the regimes they led are as pronounced as the similarities. Continue Reading

7

A Divine Wedding, Justice and Hell

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 22: 1-14

 

‘Beyond a doubt the elect are few.’

Saint Augustine

 

 

Jesus, meek and mild, basically sums up the contemporary image of Christ.  Jesus is a forgiveness machine, a divine Barney the Purple Dinosaur who loves us just the way we are.  If more people read the Gospels these days, this type of lie would quickly be smashed beyond recognition.  In the above excerpt from the Gospel of Matthew, Christ talks about how His Father is readying the marriage of His Son to His bride, the Church.  The invited guests, most of the Jews, are refusing to appear at the nuptials.  God responds by bringing to those who refuse His invitation the legions of Rome to destroy Jerusalem.  In the meantime, substitute guests, the Gentiles, are invited to the wedding feast.  So far so good, but then God the Father sees a guest who has not suitably prepared himself for the feast and casts him into the outer darkness (Hell).

The above analysis of this passage is how most Catholics would have interpreted this passage before the day before yesterday historically.  It is filled with violent imagery of doom that is so much a feature of the Gospels as the justice of God exacts the penalty of sin.  Christ came to save us from this justice by repentance, conversion and penance.  Hell is an ever present reality in the teaching of Christ, as is the judgment of God.   His mission is to save as many as He can from the everlasting fires and the worms that do not die.

How many of us have ever heard a sermon like that?  I can recall a handful half a century ago.  For every one such sermon, I have endured hundreds filled with the type of feel good pablum that is the hallmark of Catholic preaching in these decadent days.  The desperate urgency that the best priests have always felt to save as many as they could, has been replaced by confusion, cheap mercy and grace, and, too often, a yawning indifference.  Of course our clergy are not solely to blame.  They are taken from a laity that mostly sleep walks toward the cliff at the mouth of Hell.

The words of Christ at the close of the above passage never fail to send a chill through me:  “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”  Words to live and die by.

 

 

1

October 14, 1912: Theodore Roosevelt Shot!

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

 

A recording of a speech by that force of nature otherwise known as Theodore, he hated being called Teddy, Roosevelt during his “Bull Moose” campaign for president in 1912.  Note the clear delivery and diction.  Note also his references to French history:   politicians did not assume that they had to talk down to the average voter in those days.  By splitting the Republican vote, Roosevelt getting the larger share, Roosevelt’s third party campaign ensured the election of Woodrow Wilson.  Although he failed to win, during the campaign Roosevelt established beyond doubt that he was one of the toughest men ever to be president.

On October 14, 1912, Roosevelt was giving a speech in Milwaukee.  A deranged saloonkeeper, John Schrank, shot him in the chest.  Roosevelt refused to cancel a scheduled speech.  His opening is perhaps one of the most memorable for any speech:

Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet – there is where the bullet went through – and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.

Only after he completed his speech, he spoke for 90 minutes with blood running down his shirt, did he consent to go to a hospital.  The bullet could not be removed from his chest and he carried it in him for the rest of his life.  He was off the campaign trail for a scant one week, a week in which his opponents, sportsmanlike, also left the campaign trail out of respect for him.  What a man!  No matter one’s political views, and Roosevelt held a diverse group of views certain to both offend and inspire virtually all portions of the American political spectrum today, it is hard not to admire him.  As one of his enemies once said about him, “A man would have to hate him a lot, not to like him a little!”

Of course, after his heroics in the Spanish-American War, such behavior was only to be expected.  In 2001 Roosevelt was finally awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the battle of San Juan Hill.  Here is the citation:

Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt distinguished himself by acts of bravery on 1 July 1898, near Santiago de Cuba, Republic of Cuba, while leading a daring charge up San Juan Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt, in total disregard for his personal safety, and accompanied by only four or five men, led a desperate and gallant charge up San Juan Hill, encouraging his troops to continue the assault through withering enemy fire over open countryside. Facing the enemy’s heavy fire, he displayed extraordinary bravery throughout the charge, and was the first to reach the enemy trenches, where he quickly killed one of the enemy with his pistol, allowing his men to continue the assault. His leadership and valor turned the tide in the Battle for San Juan Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army. Continue Reading

3

PopeWatch: Knights

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

 

Two months after ditching their ostrich-plume chapeaus, the Knights of Columbus continue their rebranding efforts by announcing the organization shall be henceforth known as the “Knights of Indigenous Peoples.”

“This change distances us from that conquistador Columbus,” said Eric Jenkins, Commander of Assembly #4251 and one of nearly two-dozen millennial members nationwide.  “Everyone knows he was a racist.”

“We’re not caving into social pressure,” explained 4th Degree Knight Lawrence Reddy.  “We’re simply kowtowing to social justice.  Maybe one day they’ll shelf the trigger word ‘knight,’ too.  Gives me the willies.”

In addition to continuing their traditional work of high-pressure insurance sales and slinging cheap beer at fish fry’s, the Knights of Indigenous People will now also form honor guards for half-naked tribal women presenting the gifts at papal Masses.

 

Go here to read the comments.  PopeWatch contacted the Vatican for comment but was told that the Pope was still recovering from his Day of the Race celebration.

1

Of Rainy Days and Mondays

 

 

Something for the weekend.  Rainy Days and Mondays (1971).  Lots of rain here in Central Illinois this week as October comes in quite wet.  The Carpenters, siblings Richard and Karen, recorded this song in 1971, and it was their fourth number one song.  Actually I rather like rainy days and Mondays are great for me, as any trouble they bring can be written off since it is a Monday and the start of the work week for most, and therefore comes predestroyed as it were.  I always enjoyed Karen Carpenter’s voice and thus was saddened when in 1983 she died of anorexia nervosa and the details of her often sad life came out.  However her art remains and that is not a bad legacy for any artist.

 

 

 

 

30

West Point Has Become a Bad Joke

Duty, Honor, Country” — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn… In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory always I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country. Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know that when I cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps, and the Corps. I bid you farewell.

Douglas MacArthur, address to the Corps of Cadets, May 12, 1962

Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Heffington (US Army, Ret.) had a run in with the Commie Cadet, Spenser Rapone, at West Point, and warned the West Point chain of command about him in 2015.  Go here to read about it.  Heffington, a former member of the faculty at West Point, has written an open letter which details the rot that permeates West Point:

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

Before you read any further, please understand that the following paragraphs come from a place of intense devotion and loyalty to West Point. My experience as a cadet had a profound impact upon who I am and upon the course of my life, and I remain forever grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of the Long Gray Line. I firmly believe West Point is a national treasure and that it can and should remain a vitally important source of well trained, disciplined, highly educated Army officers and civilian leaders. However, during my time on the West Point faculty (2006-2009 and again from 2013-2017), I personally witnessed a series of fundamental changes at West Point that have eroded it to the point where I question whether the institution should even remain open. The recent coverage of 2LT Spenser Rapone – an avowed Communist and sworn enemy of the United States – dramatically highlighted this disturbing trend. Given my recent tenure on the West Point faculty and my direct interactions with Rapone, his “mentors,” and with the Academy’s leadership, I believe I can shed light on how someone like Rapone could possibly graduate.

First and foremost, standards at West Point are nonexistent. They exist on paper, but nowhere else. The senior administration at West Point inexplicably refuses to enforce West Point’s publicly touted high standards on cadets, and, having picked up on this, cadets refuse to enforce standards on each other. The Superintendent refuses to enforce admissions standards or the cadet Honor Code, the Dean refuses to enforce academic standards, and the Commandant refuses to enforce standards of conduct and discipline. The end result is a sort of malaise that pervades the entire institution. Nothing matters anymore. Cadets know this, and it has given rise to a level of cadet arrogance and entitlement the likes of which West Point has never seen in its history.

Every fall, the Superintendent addresses the staff and faculty and lies. He repeatedly states that “We are going to have winning sports teams without compromising our standards,” and everyone in Robinson Auditorium knows he is lying because we routinely admit athletes with ACT scores in the mid-teens across the board. I have personally taught cadets who are borderline illiterate and cannot read simple passages from the assigned textbooks. It is disheartening when the institution’s most senior leader openly lies to his own faculty-and they all know it.

The cadet honor code has become a laughingstock. Cadets know they will not be separated for violating it, and thus they do so on a daily basis. Moreover, since they refuse to enforce standards on each other and police their own ranks, cadets will rarely find a cadet at an honor hearing despite overwhelming evidence that a violation has occurred. This in tum has caused the staff and faculty to give up even reporting honor incidents. Why would a staff or faculty member expend the massive amount of time and energy it takes to report an honor violation-including writing multiple sworn statements, giving interviews, and testifying at the honor hearing-when they know without a doubt the cadet will not be found (or, if found, the Superintendent will not separate the cadet)? To make matters worse, the senior leadership at West Point actively discourages staff and faculty from reporting honor violations. l was unfortunate enough to experience this first hand during my first tour on the faculty, when the Commandant of Cadets called my office phone and proceeded to berate me in the most vulgar and obscene language for over ten minutes because I had reported a cadet who lied to me and then asked if “we could just drop it.” Of course, I was duty bound to report the cadet’s violation, and I did. During the course of the berating I received from the Commandant, I never actually found out why he was so angry. It seemed that he was simply irritated that the institution was having to deal with the case, and that it was my fault it even existed. At the honor hearing the next day, I ended up being the one on trial as my character and reputation were dragged through the mud by the cadet and her civilian attorney while I sat on the witness stand without any assistance. In the end, of course, the cadet was not found (despite having at first admitted that she lied), and she eventually graduated. Just recently a cadet openly and obviously plagiarized his History research paper, and his civilian professor reported it. The evidence was overwhelming-there was not the slightest question of his guilt, yet the cadet was not found. The professor, and indeed all the faculty who knew of the case, were completely demoralized. This is the new norm for the cadet honor system. In fact, there is now an addition to the honor system (the Willful Admission Process) which essentially guarantees that if a cadet admits a violation, then separation is not even a possibility. In reality, separation is not a possibility anyway because the Superintendent refuses to impose that sanction.

Academic standards are also nonexistent. I believe this trend started approximately ten years ago, and it has continued to get worse. West Point has stated standards for academic expectations and performance, but they are ignored. Cadets routinely fail multiple classes and they are not separated at the end-of-semester Academic Boards. Their professors recommend “Definitely Separate,” but those recommendations are totally disregarded. I recently taught a cadet who failed four classes in one semester (including mine), in addition to several she had failed in previous semesters, and she was retained at the Academy. As a result, professors have lost hope and faith in the entire Academic Board process. It has been made clear that cadets can fail a multitude of classes and they will not be separated. Instead, when they fail (and they do to a staggering extent), the Dean simply throws them back into the mix and expects the faculty to somehow drag them through the academic program until they manage to earn a passing grade. What a betrayal this is to the faculty! Also, since they get full grade replacement if they must re­take a course, cadets are actually incentivized to fail. They know they can re-take the course over the summer when they have no other competing requirements, and their new grade completely replaces the failing one. ST AP (Summer Term Academic Program) is also now an accepted summer detail assignment, so retaking a course during the summer translates into even more summer leave for the deficient cadet.

Even the curriculum itself has suffered. The plebe American History course has been revamped to focus completely on race and on the narrative that America is founded solely on a history of racial oppression. Cadets derisively call it the “I Hate America Course.” Simultaneously, the plebe International History course now focuses on gender to the exclusion of many other important themes. On the other hand, an entire semester of military history was recently deleted from the curriculum (at West Point!). In all courses, the bar has been lowered to the point where it is irrelevant. If a cadet fails a course, the instructor is blamed, so instructors are incentivized to pass everyone. Additionally, instead of responding to cadet failure with an insistence that cadets rise to the challenge and meet the standard, the bar for passing the course itself is simply lowered. This pattern is widespread and pervades every academic department.

Conduct and disciplinary standards are in perhaps the worst shape of all. Cadets are jaded, cynical, arrogant, and entitled. They routinely talk back to and snap at their instructors (military and civilian alike), challenge authority, and openly refuse to follow regulations. They are allowed to wear civilian clothes in almost any arena outside the classroom, and they flaunt that privilege. Some arrive to class unshaven, in need of haircuts, and with uniforms that look so ridiculously bad that, at times, I could not believe I was even looking at a West Point cadet. However, if a staff or faculty member attempts to correct the cadet in question, that staff/faculty member is sure to be reprimanded for “harassing cadets.” For example, as I made my rounds through the barracks inspecting study conditions one evening as the Academic Officer in Charge, I encountered a cadet in a company study room. He was wearing a pair of blue jeans and nothing else, and was covered in tattoos. He had long hair, was unshaven, and I was honestly unsure ifhe was even a cadet. He looked more like a prison convict to me. When I questioned what he was doing there, he remained seated in his chair and sneered at me that he “was authorized” because he was a First Class cadet. I proceeded to correct him and then reported him to the chain of command the next morning. Later that day I received an email from the Brigade Tactical Officer telling me to “stay in my lane.” I know many other officers receive the same treatment when attempting to make corrections. It is extremely discouraging when the response is invariably one that comes to the defense of the cadet.

That brings me to another point: cadets’ versions of stories are always valued more highly by senior leaders than those of commissioned officers on the staff and faculty. It is as if West Point’s senior leaders believe their job is to “protect” cadets from the staff and faculty at all costs. This might explain why the faculty’s recommendations are ignored at the Academic Boards, why honor violations are ignored (and commissioned officers are verbally abused for bringing them to light), and why cadets always “win” when it comes to conduct and disciplinary issues.

It seems that the Academy’s senior leaders are intimidated by cadets. During my first tour on the faculty (I was a CPT at the time), I noticed that 4th class cadets were going on leave in civilian clothes when the regulation clearly stated they were supposed to be wearing a uniform. During a discussion about cadet standards between the BTO and the Dept. of History faculty, I asked why plebes were going on leave in civilian clothes. His answer astonished me: “That rule is too hard to enforce.” Yet West Point had no problem enforcing that rule on me in the mid-1990s. I found it impossible to believe that the several hundred field grade officers stationed at West Point could not make teenagers wear the uniform. This anecdote highlights the fact that West Point’s senior leaders lack not the ability but the motivation to enforce their will upon the Corps of Cadets.

This brings me to the case of now-2LT Spenser Rapone. It is not at all surprising that the Academy turned a blind eye to his behavior and to his very public hatred of West Point, the Army, and this nation. I knew at the time I wrote that sworn statement in 2015 that he would go on to graduate. It is not so much that West Point’s leadership defends his views (Prof. Hosein did, however); it is that West Point’s senior leaders are infected with apathy: they simply do not want to deal with any problem, regardless of how grievous a violation of standards and/or discipline it may be. They are so reticent to separate problematic cadets (undoubtedly due to the “developmental model” that now exists at USMA) that someone like Rapone can easily slip through the cracks. In other words, West Point’s leaders choose the easier wrong over the harder right.

I could go on, but I fear that this letter would simply devolve into a screed, which is not my intention. I will sum up by saying this: a culture of extreme permissiveness has invaded the Military Academy, and there seems to be no end to it. Moreover, this is not unintentional; it is a deliberate action that is being taken by the Academy’s senior leadership, though they refuse to acknowledge or explain it. Conduct and behavior that would never be tolerated at a civilian university is common among cadets, and it is supported and defended by the Academy’s senior leaders in an apparent and misguided effort to attract more applicants and cater to what they see as the unique needs of this generation of cadets.

Our beloved Military Academy has lost its way. It is a shadow of what it once was. It used to be a place where standards and discipline mattered, and where concepts like duty, honor, and country were real and they meant something. Those ideas have been replaced by extreme permissiveness, rampant dishonesty, and an inexplicable pursuit of mediocrity. Instead of scrambling to restore West Point to what it once was, the Academy’s senior leaders give cadets more and more privileges in a seeming effort to tum the institution into a third-rate civilian liberal arts college. Unfortunately, they have largely succeeded. The few remaining members of the staff and faculty who are still trying to hold the line are routinely berated, ignored, and ultimately silenced for their unwillingness to “go along with the program.” The Academy’s senior leaders simply do not want to hear their voices or their concerns. Dissent is crushed-I was repeatedly told to keep quiet at faculty meetings, even as a LTC, because my dissent was neither needed nor appreciated.

It breaks my heart to write this. It breaks my heart to know first-hand what West Point was versus what it has become. This is not a “Corps has” story; it is meant to highlight a deliberate and radical series of changes being undertaken at the highest levels of USMA’ s leadership that are detrimental to the institution. Criticizing these changes is not popular. I have already been labeled a “traitor” by some at the Academy due to my sworn statement’s appearance in the media circus surrounding Spenser Rapone. However, whenever I hear this, I am reminded of the Cadet Prayer:

” … suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won. …that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice, and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”

West Point was once special, and it can be again. Spenser Rapone never should have been admitted, much less graduate, but he was-and that mistake is directly attributable to the culture of permissiveness and apathy that now exists there.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Robert M. Heffington

LTC, U.S. Army (Retired), West Point Class of 1997

Screen Shot 2017 10 11 at 1.59.06 PM - Exclusive: Former West Point professor's letter exposes corruption, cheating and failing standards [Full letter]
God help the troops led by such cadets as described by Colonel Heffington.  Trump should immediately fire the current Commandant of Cadets and appoint Heffington in his stead.

 

3

October 13, 1917: Miracle of the Sun

“From the road, where the carriages were crowded together and where hundreds of persons had stayed for want of sufficient courage to advance across the muddy ground, we saw the huge crowd turn towards the sun which appeared at its zenith, clear of the clouds. It resembled a disc of silver, and it was possible to stare at it without the least discomfort. It did not burn the eyes. It did not blind….Then a tremendous cry rang out and the crowd nearest us were heard to shout: Miracle! Miracle!…Marvel!…Marvel! Before the dazzled eyes of the people, whose attitude transported us to biblical times, and who, dumbfounded, heads uncovered, contemplating the blue of the sky, the sun trembled, it made strange and abrupt movements, outside of all cosmic laws – ‘the sun danced,’ according to the typical expression of the peasants.”

Avelino de Almeida, reporter for O Seculo, a socialist and anti-clerical newspaper, who was present at Fatima on October 13, 1917

 

 

 

 

“It must have been 1:30 p.m when there arose, at the exact spot where the children were, a column of smoke, thin, fine and bluish, which extended up to perhaps two meters above their heads, and evaporated at that height. This phenomenon, perfectly visible to the naked eye, lasted for a few seconds. Not having noted how long it had lasted, I cannot say whether it was more or less than a minute. The smoke dissipated abruptly, and after some time, it came back to occur a second time, then a third time

“The sky, which had been overcast all day, suddenly cleared; the rain stopped and it looked as if the sun were about to fill with light the countryside that the wintery morning had made so gloomy. I was looking at the spot of the apparitions in a serene, if cold, expectation of something happening and with diminishing curiosity because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention. The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds which hid it and now shone clearly and intensely.

 

“Suddenly I heard the uproar of thousands of voices, and I saw the whole multitude spread out in that vast space at my feet…turn their backs to that spot where, until then, all their expectations had been focused, and look at the sun on the other side. I turned around, too, toward the point commanding their gaze and I could see the sun, like a very clear disc, with its sharp edge, which gleamed without hurting the sight. It could not be confused with the sun seen through a fog (there was no fog at that moment), for it was neither veiled nor dim. At Fatima, it kept its light and heat, and stood out clearly in the sky, with a sharp edge, like a large gaming table. The most astonishing thing was to be able to stare at the solar disc for a long time, brilliant with light and heat, without hurting the eyes or damaging the retina. [During this time], the sun’s disc did not remain immobile, it had a giddy motion, [but] not like the twinkling of a star in all its brilliance for it spun round upon itself in a mad whirl.

“During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described, there were also changes of color in the atmosphere. Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything had assumed an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same color. Everything both near and far had changed, taking on the color of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice and I recall a sensation of amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. My own hand was the same color.

“Then, suddenly, one heard a clamor, a cry of anguish breaking from all the people. The sun, whirling wildly, seemed all at once to loosen itself from the firmament and, blood red, advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge and fiery weight. The sensation during those moments was truly terrible.

“All the phenomena which I have described were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them. Finally, I must declare that never, before or after October 13 [1917], have I observed similar atmospheric or solar phenomena.”

Doctor Jose Maria de Almeida, eyewitness of the Miracle of the Sun and member of the faculty of sciences, University of Coimbra

 

 

11

Why Trump?

A completely inept and out of touch leadership class is the main reason. Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, and lawyer, Kurt Schlichter explains it:

 

Where are the elite’s achievements? Our betters have been running things and yet they are the ones crying loudest about how awful things are. It’s another scam, of course. Things are awful, but not for them – do you think the Westside Los Angeles folks I dwell among are hurting? No, let the good times roll – on the backs of the people east of I-5. Things are hard out there in actual America (but improving under Donald Trump, the quintessential Anti-Better), and our ruling class is demanding action. That action is to direct more money and power to the ruling class. That’s the answer to every policy question. Yeah, they’ve failed, but if you reward them, well, then they’ll totally start succeeding.Iraq, the 2008 financial meltdown, health care…the hits keep coming, and the answer for the last failure is always the same. Trust us, and double down. Accountability? That’s for us suckers.

 

The bipartisan ruling class knows what’s up; it’s just deeply cynical and thinks we’re too stupid to spot the scam. Take Bob Corker, please. So, this guy is supposed to be one of the honorable mandarins of the Senate, a deeply committed public servant standing up to that big meanie Donald Trump? This is one of our betters? He mouths off at Trump and Trump, being Trump, shoots back on Twitter. And here come the vapors – how dare Trump not just stand there and take his dressing down from this paragon of pargonness? Then the media, the enabling Felonia von Pantsuit to the establishment’s Bill Clinton, starts talking about how Trump needs Corker’s vote for tax reform and how it was totally stupid and dumb and stupid for Trump to insult a guy whose vote he needs and … wait a minute. Did you detect a troubling premise within that line of reasoning? Did you notice how the media simply assumes that it’s just fine for Bob Corker to block critical reforms that will help normal Americans because his feelingz are hurted and he haz the sadz?
We normals are expected to tolerate a crushing tax system even longer because one of the elite is pouty, and that’s perfectly okay. Because us normals are not the priority. The elite is. It’s the ruling class’s country and we just live in it – at least until the elite can import an entirely new and docile electorate from the Third World to replace us.

 

You can tell a lot about a people by who they hate and who they idolize. They hate Donald Trump, and it’s because he has no allegiance to them and because he knows them so well from first-hand experience that he has absolutely no respect for them. All their hard-earned status within the hierarchy of the elite? He doesn’t give a flip, and the normals love it. Finally, someone is holding these pompous perfumed princes to account.

 

Go here to read the rest. It is deeply ironic that Trump, a life long insider, is the vehicle for the rage that misgoverned Americans feel, but that is the case. Under normal circumstances I would find Trump deeply appalling in many ways, but the circumstances are far from normal and have been since Reagan flew off into the sunset in 1989. The anger that Trump inspires among elites is, at bottom, the panic that people feel that change is coming and that they will not like it one whit. Trump is a last resort for those disgusted beyond belief by the status quo. Let us pray that Trump is successful. If he his not, I fear we are headed for a time of violence and chaos akin to the American Revolution, or, God forbid, the Civil War. Our elites are dancing at the top of a cliff and they are completely clueless as they do so, blaming Trump and the American people for their abysmal failures.

22

PopeWatch: Death Penalty

“Consistency with Scripture and longstanding Catholic tradition is important for the grounding of many current teachings of the Catholic Church; for example, those regarding abortion, contraception, the permanence of marriage and the ineligibility of women for priestly ordination. If the tradition on capital punishment had been reversed, serious questions would be raised regarding other doctrines.”

Avery Cardinal Dulles, 2004

 

Showing the contempt for prior Church teaching that has been the hallmark of this kidney stone of a pontificate, Pope Francis has stated that the death penalty is contrary to the Gospel:

 

Pope Francis has issued his strongest statement yet against the death penalty, calling it “contrary to the Gospel.” He said he would like the Catechism of the Catholic Church to change according to a “new understanding of Christian truth,” saying that only a “partial vision can think of ‘the deposit of faith’ as something static.”

The Pope made his comments in an October 11 speech to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II. 

“The death penalty is an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity,” said Pope Francis.

“It is, of itself, contrary to the Gospel, because it is freely decided to suppress a human life that is always sacred,” he added. “In the final analysis, God alone is the true judge and guarantor.”

The Catholic Church, following the Bible and the fathers and doctors of the Church, including St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as Pope Pius XII, has always viewed capital punishment as a legitimate form of protection of the public from immediate danger and as a legitimate punishment for serious crimes. 

Pope Francis has gone beyond the position held by Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who, while opposing capital punishment, never held that it was, in itself, intrinsically evil. 

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his classic defense of capital punishment in the Summa Theologica, argued that “if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good.” 

Pope Pius XII defended in 1955 the authority of the State to punish crimes, even with the death penalty. He argued that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture because “the coercive power of legitimate human authority” is based on “the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.” 

Both the Old and New Testaments indicate that the death penalty can be legitimate. For instance, Genesis 9:6 states: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” Or again, St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans teaches that the state “does not bear the sword in vain [but] is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty is morally permissible.  Continue Reading

10

PopeWatch: Pontifical Academy for Life

Perhaps it should be renamed The Former Pontifical Academy for Life:

 

The first gathering of Pope Francis’ now overhauled Pontifical Academy for Life did not ease pro-life concerns over its future as the Vatican’s stated new focus for the PAV will turn from abortion and bioethics to include immigration and the environment.

Some are saying the Academy has “lost its way,” that the changes made by the pope “differ drastically” from its founding by Pope Saint John Paul II, or are an “attack” on the pro-life Academy’s mandate. 

They question as well an apparent new prioritization of the temporal.

“It’s obvious that being ‘pro-life’ means, even for the academy, to rethink the semantic value of the term life, which cannot be reduced to a perspective that is uniquely bioethical,” Academy president, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, said at a press conference.

“If we must be pro-life, we must be always, in every way, and everywhere pro-life,” he continued, according to a C-FAM report, citing Pope Francis.

Paglia also said there were no plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae next year. 

Rather, the Academy is opening “new frontiers for debate,” he said, mentioning in particular the environment, immigration, and arms control. Continue Reading

2

Christopher Columbus Writes About His Discovery

He [Columbus] was a gentle man of great force and spirit, of lofty thoughts and naturally inclined to undertake worthy deeds and signal enterprises; patient and long suffering, a forgiver of injustices who wished no more than that those who offended him should recognize their errors, and that the delinquents be reconciled to him.

 

Bartolome de Las Casas

 

Bartolome de Las Casas in the 1530s transcribed the journal of Christopher Columbus.  The below passage relates the discovery of the New World on October 12, 1492:

 

After sunset, he steered his former course to the west. They made up about 12 miles each hour and, until two hours after midnight, made about 90 miles, which is twenty-two leagues and a half. And because the caravel Pinta was a better sailer and went ahead of the Admiral [Columbus] it found land and made the signals the Admiral had ordered. A sailor named Rodrigo de Triana saw this land first, although the Admiral, at the tenth hour of the night, while he was on the sterncasde, saw a light, although it was something so faint that he did not wish to affirm that it was land. But he called Pero Gutierrez, the steward of the King’s dais, and told him that there seemed to be a light, and for him to look: and thus he did and saw it. He also told Rodrigo Sanchez de Segovia, whom the king and queen were sending as vee-dor [accountant or auditor) of the fleet, who saw nothing because he was not in a place where he could see it. After the Admiral said it, it was seen once or twice; and it was like a small wax candle that rose and lifted up, which to few seemed to be an indication of land. But the admiral was certain that they were near land, because of which when they recited the Salve, which in their own way are accustomed to recite and sing, all being present, the Admiral entreated and admonished them to keep a good lookout on the forecastle and to watch carefully for land; and to the man who first told him that he saw land he would later give a silk jacket in addition to the other rewards that the sovereigns had promised, which were ten thousand maravedis [copper coins] as an annuity to whoever should see it first. At two hours after midnight the land appeared, from which they were about two leagues distant. They hauled down all the sails and kept only the treo, which is the mainsail without bonnets, and jogged on and off, passing rime until daylight Friday, when they reached an islet of the Lucayos, which was called Guanahani in the language of the Indians. Soon they saw naked people; and the Admiral went ashore in the armed launch, and Martin Alonso Pinzon and his brother Vicente Anes, who was captain of the Nina. The Admiral brought out the royal banner and the captains two flags with the green cross, which the Admiral carried on all the ships as a standard, with an F and a Y [for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella], and over each letter a crown, one on one side of the ✠ and another on the other. Thus put ashore they saw very green trees and many ponds and fruits of various kinds. The Admiral called to the two captains and to the others who had jumped ashore and to Rodrigo Descobedo, the escrivano [clerk] of the whole fleet, and to Rodrigo Sanchez de Segovia; and he said that they should be witnesses that, in the presence of all, he would take, as in fact he did cake, possession of the said island for the king and for the queen bis lords, making the declarations that were required, and which at more length are contained in the testimonials made there in writing. Soon many people of the island gathered there. What follows are the very words of the Admiral in his book, about his first voyage to, and discovery of, these Indies. I, he says, in order that they would be friendly to us because I recognized that they were people who would be better freed and converted to our Holy Faith by love than by force to some of them I gave red caps, and glass beads which they put on their chests, and many other things of small value, in which they took so much pleasure and became so much our friends that it was a marvel. Later they came swimming to the ships’ launches where we were and brought us parrots and cotton thread in balls and javelins and many other things, and they traded them to us for other things which we gave them, such as small glass beads and bells. In sum, they took everything and gave of what they had willingly. But it seemed to me that they were a people very poor in everything. All of them go around as naked as their mother bore them; and the women also, although I did not see more than one quite young girl. And all those that I saw were young people, for none did I see of more than 30 years of age. They are all very well formed, with handsome bodies and good faces. Their hair coarse—almost like the tail of a horse—and short. They wear their hair down over their eyebrows except for a little in the back which they wear long and never cut. Some of them paint themselves with black, and they are of the color of the Canarians [Canary Islanders], neither black nor white; and some of them paint themselves with white, and some of them with red, and some of them with whatever they find. And some of them paint their faces, and some the whole body, and some of them only the eyes, and some of them only the nose. They do not carry arms nor are they acquainted with them, because I showed them swords and they took them by the edge and through ignorance cut themselves. They have no iron. Their javelins are shafts without iron and some of them have at the end a fish tooth and others of other things. All of them alike are of good-sized stature and carry themselves well. I saw some who had marks of wounds on their bodies and I made signs to them asking them what they were; and they showed me how people from other islands nearby came there and tried to take them, and how they defended themselves; and I believed and believe that they come here from tierra firme to take them by captive. They should be good and intelligent servants, for I see that they say very quickly everything that is said to them; and I believe they would become Christians very easily, for it seemed to me that they had no religion. Our Lord pleasing, at the time of my departure I will take six of them from here to Your Highness in order that they may learn to speak No animal of any kind did I see on this island except parrots. All are the Admiral’s words.

7

I Guess They Don’t Teach History at UW Madison

My bride obtained her master’s degree in library science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  Judging from a recent event, I guess they don’t teach history, at least American history, there anymore:

 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison certainly shows up quite a bit in the news lately. The most recent incident is yet another call for going after historical American figures, but this time it’s not Columbus. The students at UW would like some modifications to an offensive statue on their campus, this one of Abraham Lincoln. Rather than asking for Honest Abe’s visage to be torn down and removed, they would like a plaque placed nearby noting Lincoln’s culpability in the massacre of Native Americans. However, the school’s chancellor has denied the request for the time being.

 

Go here to read the rest.  Below is the history the complaining students either were never taught or slept through:

 

 

It is easy to forget that between 1861-1865 there were other wars fought by the United States in addition to the Civil War.  One of these was the Dakota War of 1862 fought in Minnesota.  Relations between the native Dakota (Sioux) and the white settlers of Minnesota had been rocky for years before 1862.  Late treaty payments, and cheating Indian agents had reduced many of the Dakota to poverty on their reservations.  Alcoholism was rampant as were diseases of the white man.   Encroachments on the land of the Dakota by the settlers was common and some of the Dakota responded with murder.   Tensions erupted into open conflict on August 17, 1862 when a member of a Dakota hunting party murdered five whites.  A council of Dakota under war chief Little Crow that evening decided it was time to drive the whites out of the Minnesota river valley.  Over the next few weeks between 450-800 settlers were massacred by the Dakota.  The Dakota made an attempt to take the town of New Ulm but were repulsed.

Regular Army troops, Minnesota volunteer regiments originally mustered to fight in the Civil War and various militia units fought the Dakota throughout the state.   The Americans held Fort Ridgely in the southwestern part of the State from two attacks by the Dakota.  The Dakota won two victories over the Americans at the Battle of Redwood Ferry on  August 18, 1862 and at Birch Coulee on September 2, 1862.

The largest battle of the War took place at the battle of Wood Lake on September 23, 1862.  Colonel Henry Sibley marched from Fort Ridgely up the Minnesota River valley on September 19, 1862 with the Third, Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiments, various militia units and a battery of six cannon.  Little Crow planned to ambush Sibley’s force at Lone Lake.  (Sibley’s guide mistakenly thought Lone Lake was Wood Lake, and hence the misnaming of the battle.)  The ambush was discovered when a foraging party from the Third Minnesota approached a group of Dakota concealed in high grass.  The fighting lasted for two hours.  Little Crow had between 700-1200 braves and Sibley had about 1169-2000 soldiers.  As usual, artillery had a big impact on the morale of Indians in combat.  The Americans routed the Dakotans.  Casualties were light on both sides with seven Americans kill and 7-15 Dakota. Continue Reading

1

Captain Z-RO and Christopher Columbus

The things you find on the internet!  From 1955 the first episode of the Captain Z-RO show featuring the time traveling explorer going back to 1492 and the discovery of the New World by Columbus.  Obvious low production values, but it holds up well compared to the appalling drek that mostly makes up TV fare today.

1

PopeWatch: Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai

The ongoing sell out of faithful Chinese Catholics goes on apace at the Vatican:

 

 

A senior archbishop known for his strong opposition to the Communist regime in China has been removed from a key post in the Vatican by Pope Francis. The move is the latest in a series of overtures Pope Francis has made in recent years to seek resumption of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the Chinese regime, which has always rejected the Pope’s authority to appoint Catholic bishops in Mainland China.

Pope Francis made the surprise announcement on Sept. 28 that Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide) at the Vatican, will be reassigned to Athens, Greece to serve as the Vatican’s papal nuncio (diplomat). The 67-year-old Archbishop from Hong Kong, who has been the highest-ranking official of Chinese origin in the Vatican, has no prior diplomatic experience.

As the French newspaper La Croix noted, Archbishop Hon has been one of the most senior bishops opposed to Pope Francis’ policy of rapprochement with the Chinese regime. His position at the Vatican’s Propaganda Fide, where he served for seven years since being appointed there by previous Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, was a powerful post as that put him second-in-command in the Vatican body that directly governs Vatican’s missionary works.

The Vatican and the People’s Republic of China have had no diplomatic relations since 1951, as the Chinese Communist Party insisted from the very beginning of its rule that all bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in mainland China should be appointed by itself so as to maintain control. Instead, a regime-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) was created to supposedly represent Catholics in China, yet the CPCA has never been recognized by the Vatican.

Since Pope Francis was elected in 2013, however, he has made numerous overtures to open diplomatic relations, such as a Papal flight over China in 2014, and an announcement in February of this year that an agreement over the issue of the power to appoint Bishops has been reached with Beijing, among other events.

Go here to read the rest.  For this Pope there are no enemies on the Left, and no friends who are not on the Left.

1

October 10, 732: Charles Martel Saves Christendom

“A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the rock of Gibraltar in Spain to the banks of the Loire in France; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian Fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the River Thames. Perhaps the interpretation of the Qur’an would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Muhammed.”

Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

 

 

Charles Martel, “The Hammer”, led a life of conflict.  An illegitimate son of Pepin of Herstal, Mayor of the Palace and the true power behind the Merovingian puppet kings, after the death of his father he had to fight his father’s legitimate offspring who sought to deprive him of any share in his father’s inheritance.  Fortunately for Charles a streak of military genius ran through him, and he won battles against the odds, using force multiplying stratagems, including feigned retreats, and attacking in the middle of the day when armies of his time normally took a siesta.  By 717 he was in control of Neustria, showing mercy unusual for his day in letting his defeated adversaries live and treating them with kindness.

The 28 year old ruler now entered a round of endless wars with neighboring kingdoms, gradually extending his power, and building up a professional force of infantry to supplement the peasant levies that made up the vast bulk of most Frankish armies.

A friend and patron of Saint Boniface, he also began the alliance between the rulers of the Franks and the Popes.  He contributed much land to the Church, but roused ecclesiastical ire when he took some back to support his troops.  He might have been excommunicated if both Church and State had not suddenly confronted a common foe.

In 711 the forces of Islam began the conquest of Spain, helped along by Christian traitors.  Within a decade almost all of Spain had fallen, with small proto-kingdoms of Spaniards clinging to a precarious independence in the mountains of northern Spain.  Mohammed had died less than a century before in 632, and in that intervening period Islam had conquered the Middle East, northern Africa and seemed poised to do the same in Europe against the petty Christian kingdoms that specialized in ceaseless internecine war, seemingly weakening themselves before  their Islamic foes lifted a finger.

With Spain subdued, Muslim raids into what is now France became common.  In 732 Abd-al-Raḥmân, governor of Muslim Spain, led a predominantly cavalry army of 25,000 men north on a great raid beyond the Pyrenees, perhaps the prelude to a war of  conquest. Continue Reading

6

White is the New N Word

 

 

Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts takes a look at the ongoing demonization of a race by the Left:

I‘m just curious.  2016 showed that pleading for the concerns and sufferings of White Americans would, at best, result in scorn and mockery.  At worst, you would be schooled on how they are likely just upset they’re losing their White privilege, which equates to racism anyway, so who cares.  They’re getting what they have coming to them.  I was informed of that more than once while I was at Patheos.

In short, it’s racism.  Of course it’s racism.  Judging people as racists because they are White.  Dismissing their sufferings because they are White.  Mocking their suffering because they are White.  It’s racist.  Duh.

The fact that the biggest culprits happen to be White liberals doesn’t take away the sin.  History has a long list of people willing to sell out their kith and kin for the sake of fitting in with the latest rising power.

I thought of this as I saw a recent post by Mark Shea (Hint: Not all who agree with Trump about the NFL protests are White), perhaps of all Catholic bloggers, the most guilty of using ‘White’ exclusively in a pejorative manner.  For eight months, I have not seen him use the word ‘White’ except as a negative.  As an insult.  As a new variation of the N-word. The way he uses White is no different than the way Neo Nazis or KKK protesters use the word Jew or Black or Muslim. Or the N-Word – always in a negative.

That was the N-Word in a nutshell.  It was a word with only one purpose: to be a negative, a put down, a way of dissing an entire people as a negative, of judging them with one quick word.  That is exactly what ‘White’ has become among the Left.  From the long over-used ‘White privilege’, to assuming racism or evil because of the skin color of White Americans, to making preemptive judgments of people based on the assumption it only applies to Whites, even if it might apply to others, it is nothing other than the new N-Word.

Just because it’s the racism endorsed by the press, academics, entertainers and civic leaders of the day, it’s still wrong.   After all, dissing on Blacks and Jews or other minorities was all the rage among the same groups in other eras.

This is serious by the way.  I’ve often said the problem with history is that you have to wait for it to happen to study it.  With our endless access to information, and the high level of attention put on racism and bigotry, it shouldn’t be difficult to recognize this trend, even when directed at White people by White people.  And yet, as is too often the case through history, we miss laying the foundations for the next Great Evil.

Here is a list of examples.

In these, Mark uses ‘White’ negatively, as an insult, and does so exclusively.  Note, these are not cases where the debate is about White Supremacists groups, or even Trump’s responses to such things.  Nor are they about actual racism, or the roll of race in history, or cases where it is in reference to something Whites think in some poll.  These are only cases where the term White does not need to be used.  For instance, that not all who support Trump or his economic policies are White.  Or that not all who think there is a coming persecution of Christians are White (a visiting priest from West Africa often made that case in his homilies, and I could’t help notice is non-Whiteness).

These are cases where the word “White” has been used negatively, as an insult, and as a way to frame the debate in a racial manner when it does not need to be. It’s use is meant to conjure a negative image of a group of people, however inaccurately, based on race. Not once did I find an example of “Whites” used in any positive sense that month.  This list is only through September, BTW.

If you don’t think this is a big deal, imagine a Catholic blogger using ‘Black’, or ‘Arab’, or ‘Jew’ in such a way, when it doesn’t necessarily apply, and always in the negative.  Do you think anyone would care?  Do you think the Church would care?  The Church leadership’s own silence about this is troubling.

 

Go here to read the rest.  Catholics have a duty to be free from race prejudice and race hatred, and that means all races and not just the color of the month fashionable on the Left.  Attempting to whip up race hatred for political purposes is shameful, and all too common in contemporary society.  Racism in all its forms must be condemned, and one does not cure racism by engaging in racism.

 

8

Idiocy in the Public Square

Bess Kalb, a writer for Moral Authority of the Nation, Jimmy Kimmel, doesn’t seem to understand  that amendments are part of the Constitution.  Go here to read more about the abyss of ignorance she possesses about the Constitution.  Fortunately for her there are no laws against making comments about subjects of which you are bone ignorant.  Her boss is lucky also that is the case.  We live in time when the loudest voices in the Public Square tend to be people who are completely ignorant of our history and our system of government.  That is tolerable.  What is intolerable is that these same idiots often try to shout down and drive from the Public Square those who are not fools and who know better.

 

 

9

PopeWatch: Homilies

If one wishes to understand this Pope, it is a good idea to look at his homilies.  He often “wings” them rather than reading from a prepared text.  Thus in his homilies we get the pure and unadulterated Francis.  Case in point this extract from a homily last month:

 

“This (is the) healthy realism of the Catholic Church: the Church never teaches us ‘or this or that.’ That is not Catholic. The Church says to us: ‘this and that.’ ‘Strive for perfectionism: reconcile with your brother.  Do not insult him. Love him. And if there is a problem, at the very least settle your differences so that war doesn’t break out.’ This (is) the healthy realism of Catholicism. It is not Catholic (to say) ‘or this or nothing:’ This is not Catholic, this is heretical.  Jesus always knows how to accompany us, he gives us the ideal, he accompanies us towards the ideal, He frees us from the chains of the laws’ rigidity and tells us: ‘But do that up to the point that you are capable.’ And he understands us very well.  He is our Lord and this is what he teaches us.” Continue Reading

18

A People Numerous and Armed

Extravagant as the supposition is, let it however be made. Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it.

James Madison, Federalist 46

 

 

 

 

 

In the wake of the Vegas Massacre some Leftists have been calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment.  Michael Schermer, in the New York Times, argues that an armed populace is no safeguard against tyranny:

 

If you think stock piling firearms from the local Guns and Guitars store, where the Las Vegas shooter purchased some of his many weapons, and dressing up in camouflage and body armor is going to protect you from an American military capable of delivering tanks and armored vehicles full Navy SEALs to your door, you’re delusional. The tragic incidents at Ruby Ridge, in Idaho, and Waco, Tex., in the 1990s, in which citizens armed to the teeth collided with government agencies and lost badly, is a case study for what would happen were the citizenry to rise up in violence against the state today.

 

Go here to read the rest.  The ignorance contained in that paragraph is stunning.  As Afghanistan and Iraq have amply demonstrated, insurgencies are difficult to combat even for the most advanced military on Earth.  A widespread insurgency in this country would pose the same problems for our military on a vastly larger scale.  We have a huge country inhabited by some 330,000,000 people.  An insurgency supported by 40% of the American people, with ten percent willing to take up arms, would produce a potential guerilla force in the tens of millions.  National Guard units and segments of the military would quickly line up with the insurgents in a rebellion supported by 40% of the people they are pledged to defend.

The State in which I live, Illinois, is 26th in size, with 102 counties and hundreds of cities, towns and villages. I can just imagine the military effort necessary to hold down just Illinois in a conflict where 40% of the population supported a war against the government.

Modern militaries have immense logistical tails supporting the fighting units, filled with soft targets, all tempting fruit for guerilla units.  The idea that an armed population would not be a check on a tyrannical government in this country badly misunderstands both the nature of modern warfare and the history of this nation.  Mr. Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence wrote of a right of revolution.  The Second Amendment guarantees that if that right ever must be exercised, the people will have the ability to do so.

The Founding Fathers, in all they did, struggled to pass on the blessings of liberty to their posterity.  Ensuring that the American people would remain, in the words of a British officer during the Revolution, “a people numerous and armed”, was one part of the safeguards that they gave us against tyranny.  It is the last protection between the people and tyranny. This safeguard is just as effective today as it was in 1789.

5

Pope Leo XIII and Christopher Columbus

 

No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service.

Christopher Columbus

 

 

 

Another Columbus Day is upon us, and I always observe it with posts on the discoverer of the new world.  The official observance this year in the US is on October 9, rather than on the date of the discovery of the New World which occurred on October 12.  I have posted before the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the 400th anniversary of the discovery.  This year we will take a closer look at his words, with comments interspersed by me.

QUARTO ABEUNTE SAECULO
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON
 THE COLUMBUS QUADRICENTENNIAL

To Our Venerable Brethren, the Archbishops and
Bishops of Spain, Italy, and the two Americas.

Now that four centuries have sped since a Ligurian first, under God’s guidance, touched shores unknown beyond the Atlantic, the whole world is eager to celebrate the memory of the event, and glorify its author.

Pope Leo flatly states that Columbus was guided by God on his voyage of discovery.  That is certainly in accord with what Columbus himself thought, as demonstrated by this excerpt from his letter to Raphael Sanchez, Treasurer of Ferdinand and Isabella, reporting on his first voyage:

But these great and marvellous results are not to be attributed to any merit of mine, but to the holy Christian faith, and to the piety and religion of our Sovereigns; for that which the unaided intellect of man could not compass, the spirit of God has granted to human exertions, for God is wont to hear the prayers of his servants who love his precepts even to the performance of apparent impossibilities. Thus it has happened to me in the present instance, who have accomplished a task to which the powers of mortal men had never hitherto attained; for if there have been those who have anywhere written or spoken of these islands, they have done so with doubts and conjectures, and no one has ever asserted that he has seen them, on which account their writings have been looked upon as little else than fables. Therefore let the king and queen, our princes and their most happy kingdoms, and all the other provinces of Christendom, render thanks to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has granted us so great a victory and such prosperity. Let processions be made, and sacred feasts be held, and the temples be adorned with festive boughs. Let Christ rejoice on earth, as he rejoices in heaven in the prospect of the salvation of the souls of so many nations hitherto lost. Let us also rejoice, as well on account of the exaltation of our faith, as on account of the increase of our temporal prosperity, of which not only Spain, but all Christendom will be partakers.

Nor could a worthier reason be found where through zeal should be kindled. For the exploit is in itself the highest and grandest which any age has ever seen accomplished by man; and he who achieved it, for the greatness of his mind and heart, can be compared to but few in the history of humanity. By his toil another world emerged from the unsearched bosom of the ocean: hundreds of thousands of mortals have, from a state of blindness, been raised to the common level of the human race, reclaimed from savagery to gentleness and humanity; and, greatest of all, by the acquisition of those blessings of which Jesus Christ is the author, they have been recalled from destruction to eternal life.

Note that Pope Leo not only praises the spreading of Christianity, but also the raising up of the natives of the New World from “savagery to gentleness and humanity”.  How the intellectual fashions have changed from the time of Pope Leo to our own day! Continue Reading

1

Columbus, Catholicism and Courage

 

“This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky. “

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

This is one of those years in which the government decreed Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, does not fall on October 12, the date, under the Julian calendar, when Columbus discovered the New World.  Columbus Day is observed also in Spain as Dia de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional and as the charmingly unpc Dia de la Raza in most Latin American nations.

In this country Columbus Day used to be an uncomplicated celebration, especially for Italian Americans.  Now it has become controversial with Columbus blamed in some quarters for genocide against Indians and being the founder of the American slave trade.  As Dinesh D’Souza pointed out in this article in 1995 in First Things, the condemnation of Columbus today tells us far more about current political battles than it does about the historical record of Columbus.  From a modern standpoint there is indeed much to criticize Columbus for since, in most ways, he was a typical man of his time, as we are, in most ways, typical children of ours.  Among other views inimical to our time,  he saw nothing wrong about establishing colonies and bringing native peoples under the rule of European powers.  He had little respect for the religions of native people and wanted them to be Catholic, as, indeed, he wanted all the world to be Catholic.  (I see nothing wrong in this myself, but rest assured most of our contemporaries in this country would.)

Prior to ascending the pulpit to launch a jeremiad against someone of a prior time however, it might be useful to consider the criticisms that Columbus might have of our time.  The embrace of nihilistic atheism by so many in the West in our time would have appalled him. The easy availability of the most degrading types of pornography would have sickened him.  Our weapons of mass destruction he would have seen as a sign of the reign of the Anti-Christ.  Ecumenicalism he would have viewed as a turning away from the True Faith.  The celebration of abortion as a right would have seemed to him as the ultimate covenant with death.  The Sixties of the last century popularized the term generation gap, describing the difficulty that parents and their teenage offspring had in understanding each other.  Between our time and that of Columbus there is a generations’ chasm and the use of Columbus as a whipping boy in current political disputes only increases our problem of understanding him and his time. Continue Reading

2

PopeWatch: Christopher Columbus

On May 27, 2017 when visiting Genoa, Pope Francis mentioned and praised Christopher Columbus.  Ironically it was in the context of attempting to convince Italians to accept mass illegal immigration from Islamic countries, something that would have appalled Columbus:

 

And thank you, Luca, for your restlessness. Genoa is a port city, which historically has received many ships and has produced great navigators! To be a disciple it takes the same navigator’s heart: horizon and courage. If you have no horizon, or prospect, and are unable to look at what is under your nose, you will never be a good missionary. If you do not have courage, you will never be one. It is the virtue of the navigator: they know how to read the horizon, to go, and they have the courage to go. Let us think of the great navigators of the fifteenth century, many set out from here. You have the opportunity to know everything with new techniques, but these techniques of information very often make us fall into a trap: because instead of being informed we are saturated, and when you are saturated your horizon draws in, until you have a wall in front of you, and you lose the capacity to look to the horizon. Be careful: always watch for what they are selling you! Also what they are selling you in the media. Contemplation, the capacity to contemplate the horizon, of making your own judgement, not eating what they serve you on a plate. This is a challenge: it is a challenge that I think should lead us to prayer, to say to the Lord, “Lord, I ask you a favour: please, never stop challenging me”. Challenges to our horizon which require courage. Are you Genoese? Navigator: horizon and courage. And to all Genoese, I say: onwards! That prayer I offered to you: “Lord, I ask you a favour, challenge me today”. Yes, “Jesus, please, come, trouble me, give me the courage to be able to answer to the challenge and to You”. I like this Jesus Who bothers, Who troubles: because He is the living Jesus, Who moves within you with the Holy Spirit. And how good it is to see a boy or a girl let themselves be moved by Jesus; and the young person who does not allow his or her mouth to be closed easily, who learns not to stay with a closed mouth, who is not happy with simplistic answers, who seeks the truth, who looks for the profound, who sets out at large, who goes ahead, onwards. And who has the courage to ask questions about the truth and many things. We must learn to challenge the present. A healthy spiritual life generates lively young people, who when faced with some things that are offered nowadays by this culture – “normal”, they say, it may be, I don’t know – ask themselves, “Is this normal, or is this not normal?”. The courage to seek the truth. Is it normal that every day that sense of indifference increases? I don’t care what happens to others: indifference with friends, neighbours, in our neighbourhood, at work, in school… Is it normal – as Francesca invites us to ask – that many of our peers, migrants or from distant, difficult countries, bloodied by selfishness that leads to death, that they live in our cities in truly difficult situations? Is this normal? Is it normal that the Mediterranean has become a cemetery? Is this normal? Is it normal that many, many countries – and I am not saying Italy, because Italy is very generous – is it normal that many countries are closing their doors to these people who are wounded and flee from hunger, from war, these exploited people, who come in search of a little security … is it normal? This question: is this normal? If it is not normal, I must get involved to make sure it doesn’t happen. My dear, this takes courage, it takes courage.

Returning to navigators, Christopher Columbus, whom they say was one of yours – but we know, but many like him or he himself perhaps departed from here – of him they say, “This crazy man wants to arrive here going from there”. But he had reasoned on the “normality” of certain things and faced a great challenge: he had courage. Is it normal that, faced with the pain of others, our attitude is to close the doors? If it is not normal, get involved. Challenging the present is having the courage to say, “There are things that seem normal but they are not normal”. And you, this you must think: these are not things willed by God, and they must not be willed by us! And say this with force! This is Jesus: untimely, Who breaks up our systems, our plans. It is Jesus Who sows in our hearts the restlessness to ask this question. And this is good: this is very good! Continue Reading

2

Of Vineyards, God and Abraham Lincoln

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
Matthew 21: 33-44
Our Lord references Isaiah in this parable.  Seven centuries before Christ Isaiah had warned Judah that the wrath of the Lord was kindled against them, a Vineyard that failed to produce fruit.  This warning was ignored, as the lamentable history of the Jews ended in repeated foreign conquest, punctuated by the heroic revolt of the Maccabees that ended in civil war, tyranny and the Rule of Rome.  Small wonder that the Jews of the time of Jesus were ever on the watch for a Messiah from the House of David who would free Israel from foreign chains and bring the pure worship of God.  However, as Abraham Lincoln would note eighteen centuries after Christ, “The Almighty has His own purposes”.   The Messiah came, largely unrecognized by the Jews, and did bring about the pure worship of God, but mostly by the despised gentiles, including the hated foreign occupiers of Rome.
We Men do our best with our wits to understand the ways of God, but as the Bible truly notes, His ways are not our ways.  What we perceive as disasters He may well perceive as building blocks to carry out a vast divine plan that we simply cannot discern in our brief lives and with our fallen intellects.   Our task in our lives is to carry out His will, as best as we can discern it, but to always recall that God may be intending something entirely contrary to what we wish and hope for.  This is a fact that is often hard to accept, but, as Lincoln also noted,  “as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
6

Salve Regina, Hermann the Cripple and Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was nearing the end of his voyage across the Atlantic 525 years ago.  He had a deep devotion to the Virgin Mary.  Each night he would assemble the crew on his ship to sing the Salve Regina.  The hymn was written in the eleventh century by Blessed Hermann the Cripple, a truly fascinating figure.

 

 

Born on July 18, 1013, he was a son of Wolverad II, Earl of Altshausen.  He entered this world with maladies that would be considered overwhelming in our time and in the eleventh century entirely beyond hope: a cleft palate and cerebral palsy and spina bifida, or perhaps  Lou Gehrig’s disease or spinal muscular atrophy.  In any event he could barely move, and could hardly speak.  He was placed in a monastery at age 7, no doubt his parents fearing that all that would occur for their son for the remainder of his time in this vale of tears was that he would be made as comfortable as possible until his afflicted life came to an end.

Among the monks he flourished.   At twenty he took his vows as a Benedictine monk. He spent most of his life at the Abbey of Reichenau.  He quickly demonstrated that a keen mind, as well as a beautiful soul, inhabited his wreck of a body. He mastered several languages including Latin, Arabic and Greek.  His genius was catholic in its scope:  he wrote a treatise on the science of music, several works on geometry, mathematics and astronomy, a chronicle of events from the Crucifixion to his time and composed religious poetry.  He built musical instruments and astronomical devices.  Students flocked to him throughout Europe, drawn not only by his learning but also by his sweet demeanor.  It is impossible to overstate the importance of his role in the scientific renaissance sweeping through Europe in the eleventh century.

Going blind in his later years, he became a noted composer of hymns, including the Salve Regina.  Dying in 1054 at age 40, he was beatified by Pio Nono in 1863. Continue Reading

12

First Look at The Man In the High Castle Season Three

 

“The Nazis have no sense of humor, so why should they want television? Anyhow, they killed most of the really great comedians. Because most of them were Jewish. In fact, she realized, they killed off most of the entertainment field. I wonder how Hope gets away with what he says. Of course, he has to broadcast from Canada. And it’s a little freer up there. But Hope really says things. Like the joke about Goring . . . the one where Goring buys Rome and has it shipped to his mountain retreat and then set up again. And revives Christianity so his pet lions will have something to—”

Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

 

 

The televised version of Philip K. Dick’s tale of alternate worlds, one of which is ruled by the Third Reich and the Empire of Japan, is going into a third season in 2018.  I have greatly enjoyed the first two seasons, which stands head and shoulders above most of the drek broadcast these days.

 

7

October 7, 1571: Victory of the Rosary at Lepanto

 

“The Turks, swollen by their victories, will wish to take on our fleet, and God—I have the pious presentiment—will give us victory. Charles V gave you life. I will give you honor and greatness. Go and seek them out!”

Pope Saint Pius V to Don Juan of Austria

 

 

On October 7, 1571, four hundred and forty-six years ago, the forces of the Holy League under Don Juan of Austria, illegitimate half brother of Philip II, in an ever-lasting tribute to Italian and Spanish courage and seamanship, smashed the Turkish fleet.  This was the turning point in the centuries-long struggle between the Christian West and the forces of the Ottoman Empire over the Mediterranean.  The Holy League had been the work of Pope Saint Pius V and he proclaimed the feast day of Our Lady of Victory to whom he attributed the victory.

On Wednesday of this week my bride and I led a living Rosary of the elementary and middle school students at the CCD classes held by our parish.

For a good overview of the battle of Lepanto read this review by Victor Davis Hanson here of  The Victory of the West: The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto by Niccolò Capponi.

Before the battle Don John of Austria went about the ships of his fleet and said this to his crews:  ‘My children, we are here to conquer or die. In death or in victory, you will win immortality.’  The chaplains of the fleet preached sermons on the theme:  “No Heaven For Cowards”.    Many of the men were clutching rosaries just before the battle.  Admiral Andrea Doria went into the fight with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe aboard his ship.  Back in Europe countless Catholics were praying rosaries at the request of Saint Pope Pius V for the success of the Christian fleet.  (On Wednesday of this week my bride and I led a living Rosary of the elementary and middle school students at the CCD classes held by our parish, before we began I explained this history to the kids.  We Catholics have a grand history, but it is meaningless if we do not convey it to our young.)

At the hour of the battle, and this fact is very well attested, the Pope was talking to some cardinals in Rome.  He abruptly ceased the conversation, opened a window and looked heavenward.  He then turned to the cardinals and said:   “It is not now a time to talk any more upon business; but to give thanks to God for the victory he has granted to the arms of the Christians.”  So that Catholics would never forget Lepanto and the intercession of Mary, he instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory.  To aid in this remembrance G. K. Chesterton in 1911 wrote his epic poem Lepanto:

White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross,
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Continue Reading

23

PopeWatch: Pope Issues Apology for Lepanto

 

 

Well this comes as little surprise:

 

The Pope at the Vatican today issued an apology for the victory of the Holy League at Lepanto on October 7, 1571.  “All those poor Turks were seeking to do was to get to Italy.  How much better if our predecessor Pius V had organized a grand reception for them, meeting the Turkish forces with open arms and Christian charity and humility.  Why the whole course of human history may well have been changed for the better.”  The Pope also lamented the attribution of the victory of Lepanto to the intercession of the Virgin Mary.  “The Blessed Virgin always stands for peace and mercy, and not for war and what Man calls victory.  Our predecessor no doubt had his heart in the right place, but what he did by proclaiming the feast day of Our Lady of Victory was near blasphemy.”  The Pope then proclaimed that October 7 would henceforth be the feast day of Our Lady of Perpetual Defeat on which day Catholics will say rosaries in reparation for the many non-ecumenical sins Catholics have been guilty of in waging wars of aggression against the followers of the Religion of Peace. Continue Reading