Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 26 years. Small town lawyer. President of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center.

Fortnight For Freedom: The Catholic Roots of the Declaration of Independence

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

 

My bride and I each year travel to Indianapolis for the Gen Con gaming convention which this year will be held on the last week in July.  Indianapolis is a lovely city and we have enjoyed our visits there.  Back in 1926 an Indianapolis parish priest, John C. Rager, demonstrated that the core of the Declaration of Independence has its roots in Catholic thought.

It will suffice for our purpose to consult, in detail, but two Catholic churchmen who stand out as leading lights for all time. The one is representative of medieval learning and thought, the other stood on the threshold of the medieval and modern world. They are St. Thomas Aquinas of the thirteenth century and the Blessed Cardinal Robert Bellarmine of the sixteenth century (1542-1621). The following comparisons, clause for clause, of the American Declaration of Independence and of excerpts from the political principles of these noted ecclesiastics, evidence striking similarity and identity of political principle.


Equality of man

Declaration of Independence: All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.

Bellarmine: All men are equal, not in wisdom or grace, but in the essence and nature of mankind (De Laicis, c.7) There is no reason why among equals one should rule rather than another (ibid.). Let rulers remember that they preside over men who are of the same nature as they themselves. (De Officus Princ. c. 22). Political right is immediately from God and necessarily inherent in the nature of man (De Laicis, c. 6, note 1).

St. Thomas: Nature made all men equal in liberty, though not in their natural perfections (II Sent., d. xliv, q. 1, a. 3. ad 1).


The function of government

Declaration of Independence: To secure these rights governments are instituted among men.

Bellarmine: It is impossible for men to live together without someone to care for the common good. Men must be governed by someone lest they be willing to perish (De Laicis, c. 6).

St. Thomas: To ordain anything for the common good belongs either to the whole people, or to someone who is the viceregent of the whole people (Summa, la llae, q. 90, a. 3).


The source of power

Declaration of Independence: Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Bellarmine: It depends upon the consent of the multitude to constitute over itself a king, consul, or other magistrate. This power is, indeed, from God, but vested in a particular ruler by the counsel and election of men (De Laicis, c. 6, notes 4 and 5). The people themselves immediately and directly hold the political power (De Clericis, c. 7).

St. Thomas: Therefore the making of a law belongs either to the whole people or to a public personage who has care of the whole people (Summa, la llae, q. 90, a. 3). The ruler has power and eminence from the subjects, and, in the event of his despising them, he sometimes loses both his power and position (De Erudit. Princ. Bk. I, c. 6).


The right to change the government

Declaration of Independence: Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government…Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient reasons.

Bellarmine: For legitimate reasons the people can change the government to an aristocracy or a democracy or vice versa (De Laicis, c. 6). The people never transfers its powers to a king so completely but that it reserves to itself the right of receiving back this power (Recognitio de Laicis, c. 6).

St Thomas: If any society of people have a right of choosing a king, then the king so established can be deposed by them without injustice, or his power can be curbed, when by tyranny he abuses his regal power (De Rege et Regno, Bk. I, c. 6).

Go here to read the article.  Is there any evidence that Jefferson was familiar with this Catholic thought?  There is.  In his library at Monticello there is a volume entitled Patriarcha written by the court theologian of James I, Robert Filmer.  In this book Filmer defended the divine right of kings and attacked Bellarmine.  Karl Maurer gives us the details:

 

The most interesting aspect of Patriarcha from a Catholic perspective is that the first pages discredit and attack the writings of St. Robert Bellarmine, who was one of the most eloquent and prolific defenders of freedom the Catholic Church has ever produced. It was customary that writers dealing with political and religious controversies begin their books by presenting their nemesis as an anti-thesis, which in Filmer’s case was Bellarmine’s position that political authority is vested in the people and that kings do not rule by divine right, but through the consent of the governed. This was a radical idea in the early 1600’s, though it is widely accepted today.

In Patriarcha, Filmer quotes Bellarmine directly as follows: “Secular or Civil authority (saith he) ‘is instituted by men; it is in the people unless they bestow it on a Prince. This Power is immediately in the Multitude, as in the subject of it; for this Power is in the Divine Law, but the Divine Law hath given this power to no particular man. If the Positive Law be taken away, there is left no Reason amongst the Multitude (who are Equal) one rather than another should bear the Rule over the Rest. Power is given to the multitude to one man, or to more, by the same Law of Nature; for the Commonwealth cannot exercise this Power, therefore it is bound to bestow it upon some One man or some Few. It depends upon the Consent of the multitude to ordain over themselves a King or other Magistrates, and if there be a lawful cause, the multitude may change the Kingdom into an Aristocracy or Democracy’ (St. Robert Bellarmine, Book 3 De Laicis, Chapter 4). Thus far Bellarmine; in which passages are comprised the strength of all that I have read or heard produced for the Natural Liberty of the Subject.” (Patriarcha, page 5.)

Imagine what Jefferson must have been thinking as he read the opening paragraphs of Patriarcha, a direct assault on the Roman Catholic scholarship of Bellarmine:

“Since the time that school divinity (i.e. Catholic Universities) began to flourish, there hath been a common opinion maintained as well by the divines as by the divers of learned men which affirms: ‘Mankind is naturally endowed and born with freedom from all subjection, and at liberty to choose what form of government it please, and that the power which any one man hath over others was at the first by human right bestowed according to the discretion of the multitude.’ This tenet was first hatched in the (Medieval Roman Catholic Universities), and hath been fostered by all succeeding papists for good divinity. The divines also of the reformed churches have entertained it, and the common people everywhere tenderly embrace it as being most plausible to flesh and blood, for that it prodigally distributes a portion of liberty to the meanest of the multitude, who magnify liberty as if the height of human felicity were only to be found in it — never remembering that the desire of liberty was the cause of the fall of Adam.”

There is no doubt that Jefferson, after reading Filmer, must have been struck by Bellarmine’s definition of individual freedom and popular sovereignty. It may come as a surprise to some, but a closer analysis of Bellarmine’s writing and Catholic Church history demonstrates that since 1200 AD, Catholic Church has defended individual rights and freedoms, which eventually led to the abolition of slavery, serfdom, and the rise of popular sovereignty at the expense of absolutist monarchs and tyrannical nobles. Continue reading

The Omega Declaration

KIRK: If my ancestors were forced out of the cities into the deserts, the hills
SPOCK: Yes. I see, Captain. They would’ve learned to wear skins, adopted stoic mannerisms, learned the bow and the lance.
KIRK: Living like the Indians, and finally even looking like the American Indian. American. Yangs? Yanks? Spock, Yankees!
SPOCK: Kohms? Communists? The parallel is almost too close, Captain. It would mean they fought the war your Earth avoided, and in this case, the Asiatics won and took over this planet.
KIRK: But if it were true, all these generations of Yanks fighting to regain their land.
MCCOY: You’re a romantic, Jim.
(A drummer enters. Cloud William stands.)
CLOUD: That which is ours is ours again. It will never be taken from us again.
(A a tattered flag is brought in with great ceremony. Red and white horizontal stripes, with a corner of white stars on blue background. Kirk and the others stand.)
TRACEY: They can be handled, Jim. Together it’ll be easy. I caution you, gentlemen, don’t fight me here. I’ll win. Or at worst, I’ll drag you down with me.
CLOUD: I am Cloud William, chief. Also son of chief. Guardian of the holies, speaker of the holy words, leader of warriors. Many have died, but this is the last of the Kohm places. What is ours is ours again.
(He goes over to the flag and puts his left hand over his heart.)
CLOUD: Aypledgli ianectu flaggen tupep kile for stahn
KIRK: And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
ELDER: He spoke the holy word!

 

Star Trek, The Omega Glory, March 1, 1968

 

 

 

Shatner the Canadian explains the preamble of the Constitution to us!

 

One of the “alternate Earth” episodes that became fairly common as the original Star Trek series proceeded, as explained by Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development and limited production budgets,  this episode featured an Earth where a cataclysmic war had driven the Americans, the Yangs, out of their cities and into primitive warbands.  Chinese Communists, the Kohms, settled in America.  Their technology was a few steps higher than the Yangs.  The Yangs had been waging a war for generations to drive the Kohms from their land, and the episode coincided with the Yangs taking the last of “the Kohm places”.

Over the generations, the Yangs had forgotten almost all of their history and what little knowledge remained was restricted to priests and chieftains.

“Cloud William: Freedom?
James T. Kirk: Spock.
Spock: Yes, I heard, Captain.
Cloud William: It is a worship word, Yang worship. You will not speak it.
James T. Kirk: Well, well, well. It is… our worship word, too.” Continue reading

It Crashed Before The Declaration Was Saved!

A cute video imagining the Declaration of Independence being drafted on Microsoft Word.

John Adams on August 6, 1822 in a letter to Timothy Pickering who had inquired as to how the Declaration came to be drafted responded as follows:

You inquire why so young a man as Mr. Jefferson was placed at the head of the Committee for preparing a Declaration of Independence, I answer; It was the Frankfort advice, to place a Virginian at the head of every thing. Mr. Richard Henry Lee, might be gone to Virginia, to his sick family, for aught I know, but that was not the reason of Mr. Jefferson’s appointment. There were three committees appointed at the same time. One for the Declaration of Independence, another for preparing articles of Confederation, and a other for preparing a treaty to be proposed to France.  Mr. Lee was chosen for the Committee of Of Confederation, and it was not thought convenient that the same person should be upon both. Mr. Jefferson came into Congress, in June, 1775, and brought with him a reputation for literature, science, and a happy talent of composition. Writings of his were handed about, remarkable for the peculiar felicity of expression. Though a silent member in Congress, he was so prompt, frank, explicit, and decisive upon committees and in conversation, not even Samuel Adams was more so, that he soon seized upon my heart; and upon this occasion I gave him my vote, and did all in my power to procure the votes of others. I think he had one more vote than any other, and that placed him at the head of the committee. I had the next highest number, and that placed me the second. The committee met, discussed the subject, and then appointed Mr. Jefferson and me to make the draught, I suppose because we were the two first on the list.

The sub-committee met. Jefferson proposed to me to make the draught I said, “l will not.” “You should do it.” “Oh! no.” “Why will you not? You ought do it.” “I will not.” “Why?” “Reasons enough.” “What can be your reasons?” “Reason first–You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second–I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular.  You are much otherwise. Reason third–You can write ten times better than I can.” “WelI,” said Jefferson, “if you are decided, I will do as well as I can.” “Very well.  When you have drawn it up, we will have a meeting.” Continue reading

Speaking of Flags of Hate

gay pride

John Nolte at Breitbart  reminds us that if we are going to ban flags for being offensive, there is a popular one today that gives offense to a great many Americans:

Under the banner of what is dishonestly called a gay pride or gay “rights” flag, hate, fascism, and intolerance has festered for years, specifically against Christians and conservatives.  Under the auspices of a “rights and equality” symbol, Leftists have been on a rampage to take way the rights of others through bullying, lies, and online terrorism.

The list of misdeeds and victims resulting from an increasingly emboldened Big Gay Hate Machine continues to grow.

Under this banner of hate, people are outed against their will,  terrorized out of business merely for being Christian, bullied and harassed for thoughtcrimes; moreover, “hate crimes” are being manufactured to keep us divided, Christians are refused service, death threats are hurled, and Christianity is regularly smeared as hate speech.

If individuals wish to fly this symbol of hate, oppression and bigotry on their own property, that is their choice in a free country. It is unconscionable, however, that this symbol of intolerance is allowed to fly above government-owned buildings.

The symbol of bigots who seek to strip others of their First Amendment right to practice their religion has no place on government grounds. Continue reading

Fortnight for Freedom: Magna Carta , the Church and Cardinal Stephen Langton

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

This year we celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the Great Charter that is the foundation of English liberties that we Americans are heirs to.

Documents like Magna Carta were commonplace in Western Europe during the Middle Ages, when the authority of kings was strictly restricted by nobles, commons and the Church.  However, what is unusual about Magna Carta is its vitality.  The English never forgot it, and whenever there was political upheaval in ages to come after 1215, the cry of Magna Carta was ever heard.

One of the significant features of Magna Carta is the first paragraph:

(1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church’s elections – a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it – and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.

The one man most important in the struggle to bring Magna Carta about was Cardinal Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury.  King John opposed his appointment as Archbishop by Pope Innocent III in 1207, and the long struggle between King and Cardinal became the centerpiece of the struggle between John and his rebellious Barons, who looked for leadership from Langton, the most brilliant English cleric of his day, and who became the soul of the movement opposing the King.  The worst English King confronted the mightiest English Archbishop and the King blinked.

When the Barons forced John into signing Magna Carta, they gave pride of place to the freedom of the Catholic Church that had stood with them in their struggle against a tyrant King.  This was typical of the Middle Ages.  Fighting over Church-State issues helped develop a tradition in Europe that resistance to encroachment upon rights by the King was not sinful, but rather praise worthy.  The King himself was not above the Law, or oaths he had sworn to God, and the Church, in guarding her rights, often became associated with the rights of the nobles and commons, for Kings encroaching upon the rights of the Church, also were often encroaching upon the rights of their subjects.

So when we remember Magna Carta, let us recall the Cardinal who brought it about, and the freedom of the Catholic Church that was at the forefront of the fight for English liberties. Continue reading

Top Charges on Film

Some interesting choices in the above video, but I can’t believe they didn’t include these charges (feel free to add other film charges in the comboxes):

Quotes Suitable for Framing: George Will

 

The EU has a flag no one salutes, an anthem no one sings, a president no one can name, a parliament whose powers subtract from those of national legislatures, a bureaucracy no one admires or controls, and rules of fiscal rectitude that no member is penalized for ignoring. It does, however, have in Greece a member whose difficulties are wonderfully didactic.

It cannot be said too often: There cannot be too many socialist smashups. The best of these punish reckless creditors whose lending enables socialists to live, for a while, off other people’s money. The world, which owes much to ancient Athens’s legacy, including the idea of democracy, is indebted to today’s Athens for the reminder that reality does not respect a democracy’s delusions.

Reality always wins out in the end.

 

PopeWatch: Liberal Catholic

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Over the years PopeWatch has heard time and again from many Catholics that there are no liberal Catholics nor conservative Catholics but merely Catholics.  PopeWatch has never believed this since the evidence to the contrary is so abundant.  PopeWatch would suggest that there are liberal and conservative Catholics and that Pope Francis is an example of a liberal Catholic.  In what way is Pope Francis a liberal Catholic (using “liberal” in the current popular American sense of being on the political left)?

1.  He has a distrust, if not hatred, of markets.

2.  His preferred solution to most problems in this Vale of Tears is to call upon Caesar to find a solution.

3.  He has a great fondness for some sort of world government.

4.  He believes in some of the shibboleths popular on the Left, including that arms merchants start wars, and that rich countries are responsible for poor countries being poor.

5.  He seeks out allies from the loony Left.

6.  He favors stringent regulation and control of economies by governments.

7.  He favors environmental “reform” even if, as he expects, people become materially poorer as a result.

8.  He has a distrust of democracy as democratic states lack long term commitment to the environmental measures that he favors.

9.  His outlook on life is top down with leaders bringing enlightenment to common humanity.

10.The Left, who hated his predecessors, love Pope Francis, who they view as an ally in most of their fights.

Continue reading

Gay Marriage and the Hand of God

She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.

Protestant historian and essayist Thomas Babington Macaulay on the Catholic Church

 

 

 

I am always reluctant to see the hand of God in human affairs.  I think there is much wisdom in this observation about God by Lincoln in his Second Inaugural:  The Almighty has His own purposes.   However, it is striking that Christian churches that embrace the evil Zeitgeist of today on abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and other issues, swiftly see their numbers diminishing and their churches heading to extinction.  David French at National Review Online looks at this phenomenon:

In previous pieces, I’ve amply documented the decline and fall of the Protestant Mainline, those churches — like the United Churches of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (USA) — that abandoned biblical orthodoxy decades ago, in the name of cultural relevance and “inclusion.” Some are declining so precipitously that they may cease to exist within a generation. Already we’re seeing similar signs of decline in those Evangelical churches that are abandoning biblical truth on questions of sex, family, and marriage.

 

The day before the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Nashville Scene — a local alternative paper — ran a long, gauzy profile of Pastor Stan Mitchell and GracePointe, a Tennessee church that’s done exactly what the culture demands and embraced same-sex marriage. In the midst of the lengthy ode to his courage, this small paragraph of truth stood out: 

Continue reading

Fortnight for Freedom: Bishop Sheen-Life of Abraham Lincoln

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

In our current struggle in this country for freedom, it is good to recall champions of it.  Two names stand above all others:  George Washington and Abraham Lincoln

In that regard,  Bishop Sheen retold the life of Abraham Lincoln on his television show.  Originally broadcast in 1954, it is an interesting take on the Great Emancipator.  Completely fascinating.  A great tribute by a son of Illinois to the greatest son of Illinois.

As a native of Peoria, Sheen knew that Lincoln re-emerged into political life on October 16, 1854 when he gave a speech in Peoria that attacked the repeal of the Missouri Compromise by Stephen Douglas’ Kansas-Nebraska Act.  Go here to read that speech.  The rest of Lincoln’s political life was set by that speech that catapulted him into the challenge to Douglas for his Senate seat in 1858, and his Presidential campaign against Douglas in 1860.  For Lincoln personally, the Peoria speech was the most significant of his life.

Of course Bishop Sheen did not celebrate Lincoln simply because of his connection with Illinois and Peoria.  In addition to his winning the Civil War and freeing the slaves, Lincoln was also ever a friend to Catholics.

In the 1840s America was beset by a wave of anti-Catholic riots.  An especially violent one occurred in Philadelphia on May 6-8.  These riots laid the seeds for a powerful anti-Catholic movement which became embodied in the years to come in the aptly named Know-Nothing movement.  To many American politicians Catholic-bashing seemed the path to electoral success.

Lincoln made clear where he stood on this issue when he organized a public meeting in Springfield, Illinois on June 12, 1844.  At the meeting he proposed and had the following resolution adopted by the meeting:

“Resolved, That the guarantee of the rights of conscience, as found in our Constitution, is most sacred and inviolable, and one that belongs no less to the Catholic, than to the Protestant; and that all attempts to abridge or interfere with these rights, either of Catholic or Protestant, directly or indirectly, have our decided disapprobation, and shall ever have our most effective opposition. Resolved, That we reprobate and condemn each and every thing in the Philadelphia riots, and the causes which led to them, from whatever quarter they may have come, which are in conflict with the principles above expressed.”

Lincoln remained true to this belief.  At the height of the political success of the Know-Nothing movement 11 years later, Mr. Lincoln in a letter to his friend Joshua Speed wrote:

“I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].”

On July 4, 1864, when Lincoln had much else to occupy his mind, he attended a fundraising for a  Catholic church for Washington blacks.  Lincoln had given permission for the fund raiser to be held on the lawn of the White House. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Priorities

Here is the response thus far of Pope Francis in regard to the United States Supreme Court mandating gay marriage:

 

In other news, the Pope has appointed Left wing activist Naomi Klein to co-chair a Vatican conference on the environment.  Klein views climate change as an opportunity to ditch capitalism:

Klein is likely to be a highly controversial choice as co-chair, not only because it is unusual to see a non-religious figure leading sessions in the Vatican, but because she is staunchly socialist in her outlook: her most recent book is entitled This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

In it, she insists that the only way to save the planet from annihilation by climate change is to abandon capitalism. “In order for us to make the kind of progress we need to make in the short amount of time we have left we must confront the reigning, unquestioned ideology that sees privatization as always good, and doesn’t question the logic of austerity, doesn’t question the logic of pro-corporate, free trade deals that have stood in the way of progress on climate,” she told Macleans last year.

“That’s not necessarily the most popular message. But emissions are up 61 percent since we started trying to fix this problem in the early 1990s. Obviously, that strategy isn’t working.”

Her views chime with those of the Pope, who used the 180-page encyclical to call on rich countries to hand over large sums of money to poor countries as payment for their “grave social debt”.

“The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned,” Francis wrote. “In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future.

“The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development.”

Klein has praised the Pope for that stance, telling the Observer: “The fact that they invited me indicates they’re not backing down from the fight. A lot of people have patted the pope on the head, but said he’s wrong on the economics. I think he’s right on the economics.”

She added that the Pope’s unique position as a “moral voice” gave him leverage to unite campaigners fighting for a common goal. “The holistic view of the encyclical should be a catalyst to bring together the twin economic and climate crises, instead of treating them separately,” she said.

And she tacitly accused his detractors of racism, suggesting that the Pope was being opposed on the economic arguments because he’s from the Southern hemisphere, saying: “There are a lot of people who are having a lot of trouble in realising there is a voice with such global authority from the global south. That’s why we’re getting this condescending view, of ‘leave the economics to us’,”

Unfortunately for Klein (and the Pope), her writing makes it clear that she has little grasp of basic concepts used in science such as cause and effect or numbers. Four years ago she attended the Heartland Institute’s climate conference in order to critique it.

The Australian climate blogger Jo Nova quickly and comprehensively destroyed her critique, however, saying: “Naomi Klein was the wrong person to send to a heavy-weight science conference  — in “Capitalism vs Climate” she notices hundreds of details, but they’re all the wrong ones.

“The lights are on and no brain is home.  Unpack the loquacious pencraft and we wallow in innumerate arguments that confuse cause and effect, peppered with petulant name-calling. She can throw stones, but she can’t count past “one”.” Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Top Ten Movies for the Fourth

Fortnight For Freedom 2015

 

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.

John Adams

 

 

 

This is a repeat from a post last year, with some slight modifications, but I think the logic behind the post still holds true.  As we are embroiled now in a struggle to preserve our religious liberty, I think the Fourth of July is a good time to recall the price paid to establish our liberties.  It is trite to say that freedom is not free, but it is also true.  Winning the American Revolution took eight years and it was a definite David V. Goliath upset.  A people who forget this eternal lesson will not remain free for long.

 

 

A number of feature films and miniseries have been made about the events of the American Revolution.  Here are my top ten choices for Fourth of July viewing:

10.  Ben and Me (1953)- Something for the younger patriots.  Disney put to film the novel of Robert Lawson, Ben and Me, which related how many of Ben Franklin’s bright ideas came from his mouse Amos.  Quite a bit of fun.   Not a classic but certainly an overlooked gem.

9.  The Crossing (2000)-A retelling of Washington’s brilliant crossing of the Delaware on Christmas 1776 and the battle of Trenton.  This film would rank much higher on my list but for Jeff Daniels’ portrayal of Washington as sullen and out of sorts throughout the movie.  Washington had a temper, and he could give vent to it if provoked, although he usually kept it under control, but the peevish Washington portrayed here is simply ahistoric and mars an otherwise good recreation of the turning point of the Revolution.

8.  John Paul Jones (1959)  Robert Stack, just before he rose to fame in the Untouchables, is grand in the role of the archetypal American sea hero.  Bette Davis is absolutely unforgettable as Catherine the Great.  The climactic sea battle with the Serapis is well done, especially for those pre-CGI days.  The only problem with the film is that many of the details are wrong.  This is forgivable to a certain extent since scholarship on Jones was badly skewed by Augustus Buell in a two-volume “scholarly biography” which appeared in 1900.  Buell was a charlatan who made up many incidents about Jones and then invented sources to support his fabrications.  Buell was not completely exposed until Samuel Eliot Morison, Harvard professor of history, and an Admiral in the Navy, wrote his definitive biography of Jones. Here is a list of the fabrications of Buell compiled by Morison.  Morison’s book appeared after the movie, which is to be regretted.

7.  The Patriot (2000) Finally, a film which depicts the unsung contribution of Australians to victory in the American Revolution!  Actually not too bad of a film overall.  Heath Ledger is quite good as Gibson’s oldest son who joins the Continentals at the beginning of the war against his father’s wishes.  Jason Isaacs is snarlingly good as the evil Colonel Tavington, very loosely based on Banastre Tarleton, commander of Tarleton’s Raiders during the Southern Campaign.  The film of course allows Gibson to carry on his over-the-top vendetta against all things English.  No, the British did not lock up American civilians in churches and burn them alive.  However, the ferocity of the partisan fighting in the South is well depicted, and Banastre Tarleton  at the Waxhaw Massacre earned a reputation for slaughtering men attempting to surrender.  The final battle of the film is based on the battle of Cowpens where General Daniel Morgan decisively defeated Tarleton.

6.  Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)-A John Ford classic starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert.  Through the eyes of a young newlywed couple, Fonda and Colbert, the American Revolution on the frontier is depicted in the strategic Mohawk Valley.  Full of the usual Ford touches of heroism, humor and ordinary life. Continue reading

Inside Out

Much of the modern resistance to chastity comes from men’s belief that they “own” their bodies — those vast and perilous estates, pulsating with the energy that made the worlds, in which they find themselves without their consent and from which they are ejected at the pleasure of Another!

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

 

 

My family and I went to see the new Pixar movie Inside Out on Saturday, and I heartily endorse it.  It is a very funny family comedy which gives a humorous fictional account of how people think and interact with others.  Personifications of our emotions run the show for each person, and the story conceit is well developed.  On one level it can be enjoyed as a kid’s movie, and on another level it is a pretty profound meditation on how complex human thoughts and emotions are, as we attempt to interact with others while barely understanding, at times, the complex factors within us determining our reactions to the outside world.  As usual for Pixar, stay for the ending credits, where you will see funny vignettes.  A good film for the forthcoming holiday weekend. Continue reading

Bear Growls: Her Hotness

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Saint Corbinian’s Bear brings us this:

 

In what Vatican watchers say is an attempt to rekindle flagging interest in Pope Francis’ “Green Encyclical,” the Vatican unveiled a new symbol for the initiative. A Vatican spokesman explained that “we want the people of the Earth to still think of Her as a ‘sister,’ but more of a hot step-sister.” The spokesman added that her “hotness” would remind people of global warming. Continue reading

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Mario Vargas Llosa

 

latin american idiot

He believes that we’re poor because they are rich and vice versa, that history is a successful conspiracy of evil against good, where they always win and we always lose (he is always among the poor victims and the noble losers).  He has no objection to surfing through cyberspace and being on-line, while at the same time-without realizing the contradiction-loathing consumerism.  When he speaks of culture he boasts, “What I know I learned from life, not from books, so my culture isn’t academic, but pragmatic.”  Who is he?  He is the Latin-American Idiot.

Mario Vargas Llosa, first paragraph of the foreword to Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot by Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Carlos Alberto Montaner and Alvaro Vargas Llosa (2001), which is essential reading in the current pontificate.

Judicial Retention Elections for Supreme Court Justices

tyranny3

 

A good idea from Senator Ted Cruz (R.Tx.):

Yet we are a people who believe, in the words of our Declaration of Independence that “when a long train of abuses and usurpations . . . evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.” In California, the people said enough is enough in 1986, and removed from office three activist justices who had repeatedly contorted the state constitution to effectively outlaw capital punishment, no matter how savage the crime. The people of Nebraska likewise removed a justice who had twice disfigured that state’s constitution to overturn the people’s decision to subject state legislators to term limits. And in 2010, the voters of Iowa removed three justices who had, like the Supreme Court in Obergefell, invented a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
Judicial retention elections have worked in states across America; they will work for America. In order to provide the people themselves with a constitutional remedy to the problem of judicial activism and the means for throwing off judicial tyrants, I am proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution that would subject the justices of the Supreme Court to periodic judicial-retention elections. Every justice, beginning with the second national election after his or her appointment, will answer to the American people and the states in a retention election every eight years. Those justices deemed unfit for retention by both a majority of the American people as a whole and by majorities of the electorates in at least half of the 50 states will be removed from office and disqualified from future service on the Court.

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