Donald R. McClarey
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Despite efforts to figure whether they were in a Catholic or Protestant service, local parishioners were left baffled after an “animated” man wearing vestments put on a head mic and began pacing back and forth as he delivered his sermon.
“The man looked like a priest and I was quite certain I was in a Catholic Church,” said longtime parishioner Joyce Parlin who had no clue as to what the hell was going on. “But he kept pacing back and forth, ending each statement with a ‘can I get an amen?’ No one was exactly sure what he was asking for. I overheard one gentleman respond, ‘yes, I suppose,’ but the priest or pastor or whatever he was kept desperately asking if he could get more amens.”
Parlin went on to add that the priest or pastor or whatever the heck he was continually used words like “fellowship” and “ministry” during his sermon, words, Parlin admitted, she had never heard before.
“He also used the phrase ‘saved by the Blood of the Lamb,’ which I suppose is some sort of Christian take on the TV show ‘Saved by the Bell.’ Hell, I don’t know.”
At press time, the band has begun singing praise a worship as beach balls are being thrown to and fro, confirming that the event is a Life Teen Mass.
Something for the weekend. The Radetzky March. Written in 1848 by Johann Strauss Senior, the march celebrated Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, the bright light of the Austrian Army in the first half of the nineteenth century. Radetzky served seventy years in the Austrian Army and was winning battles into his eighties. A perhaps apocryphal story tells that the Austrian Emperor would frequently settle Radetzky’s debts. When some courtiers asked the Emperor why he did this, the Emperor shrugged and said it was cheaper than losing a war! The sprightly march has been a favorite in America and around the globe since its debut.
In 50 years of observing politics I have never seen a politician hand her adversary such a powerful weapon as Hillary Clinton did when she damned 20% of the American people as deplorables. In that one remark she summarized the leftist contempt for Americans who stubbornly refuse to submit to leftist shibboleths, and she poured gasoline on the anger of half our population who are sick of being treated as enemies in their own nation.
I’ll tell you what stands between us and the Greeks. Two thousand years of human suffering stands between us! Christ on His Cross stands between us!
Michelangelo, Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
Popular historian Tom Holland, whose work I have admired, writes how his study of history led him back to Christianity:
By the time I came to read Edward Gibbon and the other great writers of the Enlightenment, I was more than ready to accept their interpretation of history: that the triumph of Christianity had ushered in an “age of superstition and credulity”, and that modernity was founded on the dusting down of long-forgotten classical values. My childhood instinct to think of the biblical God as the po-faced enemy of liberty and fun was rationalised. The defeat of paganism had ushered in the reign of Nobodaddy, and of all the crusaders, inquisitors and black-hatted puritans who had served as his acolytes. Colour and excitement had been drained from the world. “Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean,” Swinburne wrote, echoing the apocryphal lament of Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome. “The world has grown grey from thy breath.” Instinctively, I agreed.
So, perhaps it was no surprise that I should have continued to cherish classical antiquity as the period that most stirred and inspired me. When I came to write my first work of history, Rubicon, I chose a subject that had been particularly close to the hearts of the philosophes: the age of Cicero. The theme of my second, Persian Fire, was one that even in the 21st century was serving Hollywood, as it had served Montaigne and Byron, as an archetype of the triumph of liberty over despotism: the Persian invasions of Greece.
The years I spent writing these studies of the classical world – living intimately in the company of Leonidas and of Julius Caesar, of the hoplites who had died at Thermopylae and of the legionaries who had triumphed at Alesia – only confirmed me in my fascination: for Sparta and Rome, even when subjected to the minutest historical inquiry, did not cease to seem possessed of the qualities of an apex predator. They continued to stalk my imaginings as they had always done – like a tyrannosaur.
Yet giant carnivores, however wondrous, are by their nature terrifying. The longer I spent immersed in the study of classical antiquity, the more alien and unsettling I came to find it. The values of Leonidas, whose people had practised a peculiarly murderous form of eugenics, and trained their young to kill uppity Untermenschen by night, were nothing that I recognised as my own; nor were those of Caesar, who was reported to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more. It was not just the extremes of callousness that I came to find shocking, but the lack of a sense that the poor or the weak might have any intrinsic value. As such, the founding conviction of the Enlightenment – that it owed nothing to the faith into which most of its greatest figures had been born – increasingly came to seem to me unsustainable.
“Every sensible man,” Voltaire wrote, “every honourable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror.” Rather than acknowledge that his ethical principles might owe anything to Christianity, he preferred to derive them from a range of other sources – not just classical literature, but Chinese philosophy and his own powers of reason. Yet Voltaire, in his concern for the weak and oppressed, was marked more enduringly by the stamp of biblical ethics than he cared to admit. His defiance of the Christian God, in a paradox that was certainly not unique to him, drew on motivations that were, in part at least, recognisably Christian.
“We preach Christ crucified,” St Paul declared, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” He was right. Nothing could have run more counter to the most profoundly held assumptions of Paul’s contemporaries – Jews, or Greeks, or Romans. The notion that a god might have suffered torture and death on a cross was so shocking as to appear repulsive. Familiarity with the biblical narrative of the Crucifixion has dulled our sense of just how completely novel a deity Christ was. In the ancient world, it was the role of gods who laid claim to ruling the universe to uphold its order by inflicting punishment – not to suffer it themselves.
Today, even as belief in God fades across the West, the countries that were once collectively known as Christendom continue to bear the stamp of the two-millennia-old revolution that Christianity represents. It is the principal reason why, by and large, most of us who live in post-Christian societies still take for granted that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering. It is why we generally assume that every human life is of equal value. In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian.
Go here to read the rest. As faithful readers of this blog know, I love history. The story of Man absolutely fascinates and enthralls me. Stephen Vincent Benet put it well in The Devil and Daniel Webster:
And he wasn’t pleading for any one person any more, though his voice rang like an organ. He was telling the story and the failures and the endless journey of mankind. They got tricked and trapped and bamboozled, but it was a great journey. And no demon that was ever foaled could know the inwardness of it—it took a man to do that.
In that grand story, amidst the great parade of human events, divinity enters in with Christ. His impact on history is beyond description. Atheist H.G. Wells summed it up:
“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”
Some recent historians attempt to replace BC and AD with the ludicrous Before the Common Era, BCE, and Common Era, CE, attempting to ignore that the only reason we have a “Common Era” is because of Christ. Christ is the dividing point of history, and only fools deny it.
The Pope has agreed to serve as a mediator between the Venezuelan regime and the opposition:
The Vatican responded to a letter requesting his help from the secretary-general of UNASUR, Ernesto Samper, and former presidents Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, Martin Torrijos of Panama and Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic.
The Vatican’s response, published on Wednesday, says the pope hopes the Venezuelan people can begin a dialogue in an atmosphere of mutual trust and that, “Those who are directly involved in the destiny of the country, by overpassing rivalries and political hostility, can recognize each other as brothers.”
It’s not yet known when any talks will take place. The Venezuelan opposition had asked for such mediation as part of a series of requests sent July 7 to the government of Nicolas Maduro.
The Vatican’s letter states that the mediation of the pope is subject to both the government and the opposition requesting it directly “once they have made a firm decision to formally initiate dialogue.”
Go here to read the rest. If mediation does occur PopeWatch hopes that the Pope takes to heart this letter of the Venezuelan Bishops:
Pastoral exhortation ethical and spiritual renewal tackle the crisis
ETHICS AND SPIRITUAL RENEWAL IN THE CRISIS
1. With deep and renewed hope in God, at the beginning of this year 2015 the Bishops of Venezuela salute all Venezuelans, and lift our prayers to God for the welfare and peace of the country. In the midst of the problems that beset us, we have seen in Christmas light of Jesus, our Divine Savior (Luke 2: 9), who encourages us to go forward, faithful to his word, to build a better world. Trusting again we share with our people some concerns about the current situation, to help resolve the crisis we face.
IN THE MIDST OF A GENERAL CRISIS
2. The first part of 2014 was marked by strong political and social upheaval. At this time the bishops strongly express our rejection of all violence, whatever its origin and authors, as she was a balance of 43 dead and many injured, which we deplore without distinction of social or political groups; denounce the excessive use of force in the suppression of protests and the detention of thousands of people, many of them still in prison or subject to filing criminal courts or other restrictive measures of liberty; and we express our condolences and solidarity with the victims and their families. There are numerous reports of human rights violations including torture of detainees, which must be addressed and punished the perpetrators of these crimes.
3. That grave crisis raised the need for dialogue between government leaders, opposition and other sectors. Thanks, among other things, called the Pope Francis and participation of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop. Aldo Giordano, he began a dialogue which unfortunately was not the first meetings.
4. This situation has been joined in recent months generalized anxiety of the people by the economic crisis that we suffer, as is subjected unseen difficulties to access basic necessities. A huge external debt, which jeopardizes the future of Venezuelans, the unbridled inflation, devaluation of our currency, smuggling mining and commodity shortages have led to the increasing impoverishment of large sectors of the population, particularly those with fewer resources economic. This crisis is compounded by administrative corruption, centralism, looting the treasury currency, the recent decline in oil prices, and the ineffectiveness of the measures and plans being implemented by the Government to address it.
5. We also have a situation of worsening social violence. Offensive language, the systematic exclusion to any contrary opinion, incite fanaticism and irrationality. The crisis of public insecurity is intolerable. Unfortunately the efforts and programs developed by the government to control this scourge have failed. To this add serious problems in the health field, such as viral epidemics unaddressed efficiently, lack of medicines, medical supplies and equipment throughout the country. Moreover, the death of over forty inmates in the prison of Uribana reveals a tragic situation in our prison system should be reformed completely.
A WRONG WAY
6. The greatest problem and the cause of the general crisis, as we have noted elsewhere, it is the decision of the national government and other public bodies to impose a political–economic system of socialist Marxist or communist. This system is totalitarian and centralist, establishes state control over all aspects of life of citizens and public and private institutions. Also threaten freedom and rights of individuals and associations and has led to oppression and ruin to all countries that have applied.
The worst lesson that can be taught a man is to rely upon others and to whine over his sufferings.
Theodore Roosevelt, January 1897
It is interesting how much that passes for liberalism these days is merely dressed up snobbishness where people with lots of money can look down their noses at people they deem “poor white trash”. It is no accident, as Marxists used to say, that Hillary made her condemnation of 20% of the American people at a fundraising event to the cheers and laughter of the Hollywood glitterati and assorted fat cats. Poor whites are one of the few safe groups to hate, and what is the point of having a great deal of money unless one can feel free to dump vials of loathing on those near the bottom of the economic ladder?
Daniel Henninger at The Wall Street Journal gets this aspect of our politics, an aspect rarely spoken of, but blindingly obvious:
As with the irrepressible email server, Mrs. Clinton’s handling of her infirmity—”I feel great,” the pneumonia-infected candidate said while hugging a little girl—deepened the hole of distrust she lives in. At the same time, her dismissal, at Barbra Streisand’s LGBT fundraiser, of uncounted millions of Americans as deplorables had the ring of genuine belief.
Perhaps sensing that public knowledge of what she really thinks could be a political liability, Mrs. Clinton went on to describe “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them . . . and they’re just desperate for change.”
She is of course describing the people in Charles Murray’s recent and compelling book on cultural disintegration among the working class, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010.” This is indeed the bedrock of the broader Trump base.
Mrs. Clinton is right that they feel the system has let them down. There is a legitimate argument over exactly when the rising digital economy started transferring income away from blue-collar workers and toward the “creative class” of Google and Facebook employees, no few of whom are smug progressives who think the landmass seen from business class between San Francisco and New York is pocked with deplorable, phobic Americans. Naturally, they’ll vote for the status quo, which is Hillary.
But in the eight years available to Barack Obama to do something about what rankles the lower-middle class—white, black or brown—the non-employed and underemployed grew. A lot of them will vote for Donald Trump because they want a radical mid-course correction. Which Mrs. Clinton isn’t and never will be.
This is not the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton. The progressive Democrats, a wholly public-sector party, have disconnected from the realities of the private economy, which exists as a mysterious revenue-producing abstraction. Hillary’s comments suggest they now see much of the population has a cultural and social abstraction.
To repeat: “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.”
Those are all potent words. Or once were. The racism of the Jim Crow era was ugly, physically cruel and murderous. Today, progressives output these words as reflexively as a burp. What’s more, the left enjoys calling people Islamophobic or homophobic. It’s bullying without personal risk.
Donald Trump’s appeal, in part, is that he cracks back at progressive cultural condescension in utterly crude terms. Nativists exist, and the sky is still blue. But the overwhelming majority of these people aren’t phobic about a modernizing America. They’re fed up with the relentless, moral superciliousness of Hillary, the Obamas, progressive pundits and 19-year-old campus activists.
Evangelicals at last week’s Values Voter Summit said they’d look past Mr. Trump’s personal résumé. This is the reason. It’s not about him.
The moral clarity that drove the original civil-rights movement or the women’s movement has degenerated into a confused moral narcissism. One wonders if even some of the people in Mrs. Clinton’s Streisandian audience didn’t feel discomfort at the ease with which the presidential candidate slapped isms and phobias on so many people. Continue reading
One of the interesting aspects of the Vatican since Vatican II is the overall poor job that the Popes have done in leading the Catholic Church, with the partial exception of John Paul II, and, to a lesser extent, Pope Benedict, and the attention that the Vatican has paid to matters in which clerics have no special competence. No where is this more the case that in the area of economics, where Catholics who know something about the dismal science have to blush with shame at most of the droppings from the Vatican on that subject.
These musings usually read as if they were parodies written by someone imitating Saint Thomas More writing about Utopia: texts to belabor current conditions without containing a clue as to how realistic change for the better could possibly be initiated. They usually contain genie-like invocations of the power of the State to control the economy, seemingly oblivious to the disasters such control has often led to throughout history and particularly during the last century. They are usually written in the most cloying, unctuous language frequently deploying BOMFOG at length. The late Nelson Rockefeller used to work into many of his speeches that his chief goal was “The Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God!” To people who know much about his political career, that invocation could be either considered to be a sick joke or a dark comedy. His aides used to refer to these statements as BOMFOG. The more high-falutin’ the language, the closer you need to read any concrete proposals embedded within. Cardinal Turkson, the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and what George Orwell could have done with that title, is a prominent purveyor of this type of humbug:
The event, titled “The Economy according to Pope Francis,” was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the embassies of Germany, the Netherlands and Austria to the Holy See. In his speech, Cardinal Turkson highlighted the pope’s warnings on the “liquid economy,” or an economy judged by the ease with which assets can be converted into cash, and therefore focusing more on finance than on labor and the production of goods. This type of economy, he said, is one that “refuses to put the human being at the centre of economic life.”
“For Pope Francis, a liquid economy goes hand-in-hand with a throwaway culture. This is the ultimate economy of exclusion,” Cardinal Turkson said. The pope’s call for the world to move from a liquid economy to a social economy, one that “invests in persons by creating jobs and providing training,” is a solution that shifts the priority “from economic growth and financial health to human flourishing and the ability to live well,” he said.
To achieve this, the cardinal continued, the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good highlighted in Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” can be applied to the modern market economy. Also citing Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” Cardinal Turkson explained that solidarity can lead to the “creation of a new mindset” that places “priority of the life of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.”
These principles, he added, also can be applied to global problems “that do not respect national boundaries” and therefore call for a unified response.
“Climate change is an obvious example,” he said. “The same is true for other environmental problems, including the loss of biodiversity, the strain on water supplies, and pollution of the air, the soil, the water.”
Global issues such as unemployment, inequality and environmental degradation can be remedied by moving toward a social market economy, Cardinal Turkson said. However, global and business leaders also must come to terms with the causes of such problems.
While technological advances have improved efficiency, he said, they also have created problems with employment, which is “an essential source of human dignity.” “More and more people are being discarded as machines take up their tasks. And as technology gets more and more advanced, what will a ‘robot economy’ mean for workers?” the cardinal asked. In order to serve the common good, Cardinal Turkson said, businesses must “put the creation of employment ahead of a fixation of profits.”
Government policies that provide tax cuts to the wealthy while “fraying social safety nets and weakening unions,” he said, also have contributed to a growing inequality that has given the wealthy “too much influence over policy.”
Societies that become too unequal, he added, “lose a sense of shared purpose necessary for deliberating on the common good.”
A new social economy, he said, must be respectful of nature instead of relying on “old-school industrialisation,” making the world dependent on oil, coal and gas. Extreme pollution, climate change and the destruction of vital ecosystems caused by such industrialisation will continue to push people into extreme poverty “if we fail to act,” he said.
Everyone must “play their part” in ensuring an economy that is sustainable, equal and respectful of human dignity, he said. “Let’s not fall into the trap of assuming that the state alone is responsible for the common good while ‘the business of business is business.'” Continue reading
Faithful readers of this blog know that I am a fan of The Lutheran Satire videos. The man behind them, Lutheran Pastor Hans Fiene, has a great post at The Federalist on Tim Kaine’s prediction that the Catholic Church will ultimately approve gay marriage. He ends on a note of optimism that I believe is completely acccurate:
What Kaine fails to recognize, however, is that Francis is the peak rather than the beginning of liberalism’s ascendancy, that his generation’s Catholicism is in its last gasp. American cultural Christianity is in its death throes. The social mechanisms that have kept heterodox people in the pews and in seminaries are evaporating. For several generations, cultural and moral relativism-spouting court preachers in soft clothing have taught their people that the church body has nothing of substance to offer them, and our nation’s children are finally responding accordingly.
So while Kaine may feel optimistic when he sees that millennials overwhelmingly favor gay marriage, he forgets that, unlike his generation, millennials also overwhelmingly favor not bothering to change the dogma of churches they’ve already quit attending. No matter how many secular cheerleaders your side may have, it will be rather hard for Kaine’s camp to win the battle for Catholicism’s future when they don’t have any actual soldiers under the age of 50.
The future of Christianity does not belong to those who want to clothe themselves in both the robes of the church and the approval of the world. It belongs to those who gladly endure the rejection of this world to taste the kingdom of God. The future of Christianity does not belong to the hordes of aging white, liberal American cafeteria Catholics or a la carte Protestants who insist it doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you have love in your heart. Christendom’s future belongs to the stubborn young bloods of all tribes and tongues throughout the world who will actually bother to show up because they actually believe what their creeds and catechisms confess.
In the years to come, at least in our nation, our pews may be emptier but the faithful few who fill them will be looking for genuine forgiveness instead of shallow validation. The next generation of clergymen will be far more likely to proclaim it to them, just as they will be more likely to preach genuine repentance to the next generation of Kaines and Paul Simons instead of covering their ears every time those supposedly devout Catholics and Lutherans claim to be “personally opposed” to an evil they’ve consistently worked to perpetuate.
The future of Christianity does not belong to those who are certain the pope will one day see the light on gay marriage or any other unbiblical notion about marriage. The future of Christianity does not belong to those who publicly deny the doctrines of their church bodies, but to those who will boldly confess them, thank God where they are unified with other denominations, and seek to resolve their divisions until Christ blesses us with the unity he prayed for. Continue reading
Trump had the momentum even before Hillary’s ghastly exercise in political malpractice of the past week, but now he is clearly in the lead. The Los Angeles Times daily tracking poll, which seems to be an accurate barometer of where the race is heading this campaign, has Trump today out to a five point lead. Go here to look at it. The Bloomberg Politics Poll, go here to view it, shows Trump with a five point lead in Ohio, the Buckeye state often mirroring the national race. Perhaps most significantly, a just-released Reuters Ipsos poll, go here to read a story on the Colorado race, gives Trump a two point lead in a state that was thought to be irrevocably lost to Hillary. Trump is beginning to expand the Romney map. For example, if he takes the Romney states from 2012, and takes Ohio, Florida Iowa, Nevada and Colorado, he is the President even if he loses Virginia. Current polls show him ahead in all of these states with the exception of Nevada where Hillary clings to a one point lead in the latest poll. However, in that scenario Trump leads in Maine 2 in current polling and if Hillary took Nevada and Trump got the one electoral vote in Maine 2, the race would be tied 269-269 with the race decided, almost certainly in Trump’s favor, by majority vote by state delegations in the House of Representatives. Trump is expanding his electoral college reach while Clinton’s is contracting.
Hillary Clinton has been cordially despised by many in her party for a very long time. Leftists have never warmed to her, and many Democrats view her as simply dishonest. If she begins to look like a sure loser, more Democrats will vote Green, Libertarian or stay home. There would be an effort to replace her on the ticket. Unless she dies, a possibility that in view of her health which cannot be discounted, she will never voluntarily leave the ticket. Forcing her off the ticket would probably only enhance the disaster for the Democrats.
Trump of course is not popular, to say the least, among Republicans. His paid leave plan for new parents illustrates again that he is neither a Republican nor a conservative. However, as he increasingly looks like a winner, more Republicans and conservatives will come to his side, enjoying the crushing of Clinton and hoping to benefit in down-ballot races. Continue reading
Our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear is contemplating converting to Islam:
B’ism Allah, ar-rahman ar-raheem; as-salaam’alekum.
The Bear is thinking pretty seriously of converting to Islam, in sha’ Allah. The more he thinks about it, it is really a no-brainer.
- It would give him a reason to brush up on his Arabic. (“Marhaban! Ana dub al-jameel.”)
- Everybody would suck up to him.
- Allah is really the exact same God as Catholics worship, as everyone in the Church keeps insisting, and Muslims are all going to Heaven like everyone else, so no worries there. (No Hell anyway, or at least none ordinary folk like we have to worry about.)
- Muslims actually take their religion seriously, even the ones in charge.
- Muslims never had a Vatican II.
- No single leader saying crazy stuff all the time (you can take your pick).
- The Bear is pretty sure he could quickly rise to prominence as something involving some serious fanaticism.
- The Bear could be as Bearish as he wanted, and if anyone said anything, he would just roar “Islamo-urso-phobia.”
- Hunting a Muslim Bear would be a hate crime.
- A 1300-year-old Bear has learned to play the long game. For the foreseeable future, Muslims are in the cultural catbird seat, not Catholics.
- Wearing one of those things on his head all the time would cover up his Bear Pattern Baldness.
- The Bear could even become a cleric, and publish one of those radicalizing ephemera that innocent Muslim kids see and are instantly brainwashed into killers. (Er, make that “instantly become mentally unstable,” per Archbishop Cupich and others.)
- He already has a cave to hide in. And goats.
- It’s as close as he’ll ever get to being Muad Dib. (Hmm… “db” means Bear.)
- He could have more than one- never mind. That’s just asking for a blood bath courtesy of Red Death. Including the Bear’s blood.
- Salmon would be shipped in by the truckload from collections in mosques all over the country.
- The Bear would have to change the title and artwork of his ephemeris.
- There was that whole Sudanese teddy Bear blasphemy case which still rankles.
- Building a new audience would be a pain, unless he could get all his readers to convert along with him. (Pretty please?)
- The Bear’s brand of cutting humor might not be funny to homicidal fanatics, which would just be inviting a fatwah.
“Elizabeth Ann Seton is a saint. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is an American. All of us say this with special joy, and with the intention of honoring the land and the nation from which she sprang forth as the first flower in the calendar of the saints. Elizabeth Ann Seton was wholly American! Rejoice for your glorious daughter. Be proud of her. And know how to preserve her fruitful heritage.”
Pope Paul VI
The first native born citizen of the United States to be canonized, Elizabeth Ann Seton had an unlikely path to sainthood. Born to a prominent New York family, Dr. Richard Bayely and his wife Catherine, her mother died when she was three years old. Her father remarried and had five children with his new wife. Sadly, the marriage ended in separation, and her stepmother rejected Elizabeth and the full sister of Elizabeth. Elizabeth viewed this as the loss now of two mothers. At 19 she wedded William Magee Seton, a wealthy merchant. Their wedding was presided over the local Episcopalian Bishop. The couple would have five children and would also take in William’s five younger siblings after his father died. Her husband suffered from tuberculosis throughout most of his marriage, and in 1803 traveled to Italy with Elizabeth and their eldest daughter in hopes that the Italian climate would prove beneficial to his health. Alas it did not, and in December of 1803 he died. His Italian business associates treated her and their daughter kindly and it was at this time that she was first exposed to Catholicism.
Received into the Catholic Church in 1805, she suffered substantial financial loss as a result due to outraged bigoted parents withdrawing their daughters from the young ladies academy she had started. A turning point came in her life when she me Abbe Louis Dubourg, a Sulpician priest. His order had taken refuge in the United States in Maryland during the French Revolution. He invited Elizabeth to come to Maryland and start a Catholic school for girls. She did so in 1809 establishing the Saint Joseph Academy and Free School in Emmitsburg, Maryland to educate Catholic girls. On July 31, 1810 she founded the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph’s with the mission of caring for the children of the poor. Her sisters adopted as their rule, the rule written by Saint Vincent de Paul for the Daughters of Charity. Continue reading
The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West is a painting which has always fascinated me. Wolfe’s victory at the Plains of Abraham in 1759 sealed the doom of New France and also the doom ultimately of British rule in the 13 colonies. Freed from the menace of their ancestral enemy, the colonists were also free to rethink the ties that bound them to the British crown. West’s painting captures a pivotal moment in American history. Not only is Wolfe dying, but an old order in America, not only for France but also for Great Britain, is mortally stricken. American independence would have appalled James Wolfe, who had little love for Americans, but it is given to none of us to know the impact of our lives after our deaths. Wolfe of course had a death of legend, as the great historian of the struggle between New France and the British, Francis Parkman details: Continue reading
1933: “Well, sure, Hitler really hates Jews, but he has a great policy of getting everybody back to work!” 2016: “Yeah, Hillary is an abortion extremist, but she really loves the welfare state!”
Hmmm. the willingness of Mark Shea and other Catholic “pro-lifers” to endorse Hillary abortion-uber-alles Clinton has attracted the attention of a writer outside of Saint Blogs. Tom Riley at The American Thinker dissects this movement of the absurd:
Now that the practical choice is between coughing Clinton and terrifying Trump, the Seamless Garment crowd is making new attempts to co-opt pro-life sentiment in favor of the vociferously pro-abortion candidate – that is, Clinton. This New Pro-Life Movement is supposedly bolder, more sincere, more consistent, and especially more “prudent” than the old (and conservative) one.
It’s wise to wave aside some of this with a sneer – especially the tried-and-false dilution of the pro-life message with the goofy pretense that opposing capital punishment makes innocent lives safer. But it’s also wise to take seriously a more profound falsehood: that the way to advance pro-life goals is to throw our full support behind the welfare state.
Oddly enough, one of the most prominent proponents of this viewpoint is Mark P. Shea, whose self-written Wikipedia listing describes him as “an American author, blogger, and speaker working in the field of Roman Catholic apologetics” and whose forays on behalf of broad pro-lifery display all the telling logic and rhetorical effectiveness of a banana slug in the noonday sun. Shea is fond of telling us such things as that the invasion of Europe must be encouraged by pro-life Christians, maybe because Jesus was a refugee, too. It’s pointless to ask him whether little German girls ought to be raped by Jesus stand-ins. Indeed, it’s pointless to offer counter-argument to anything Shea says, since he never offers argument. He makes assertions and accuses anyone who disagrees with him of defying the Magisterium.
But Shea refers us to Matthew Tyson, whose presentation of the New Pro-Life Gospel is more explicitly reasoned and cogent. Tyson reasons thus: pro-lifers have put all their authentic plastic fetal models into the wrong basket. They’ve been working to elect Republicans for years. They’ve concentrated on changing the composition of the Supreme Court. Yet time and again, the Court has handed them defeats, and legalized abortion has continued unabated. Therefore, pro-lifers must address the “root causes” of abortion – by expanding various welfare programs so women will not feel forced to seek the destruction of their children.
Like all the most effective lies, this one has a limited truth behind it. Efforts to establish a pro-life – or even a strict constitutionalist – Supreme Court have proved less than encouraging. Tyson is right that both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were decided by courts on which Republican presidents had appointed a majority of the justices. (He’s certainly wrong, however, to characterize these courts as featuring a majority of conservatives.) Why has this strategy proved a disappointment?
One reason is that pro-life conservatives haven’t managed to place all their most favored nominees on the Court. Please recall that Robert Bork was President Reagan’s first choice for the vacancy left in 1987 by the retirement of Justice Powell, and that Douglas Ginsburg was Reagan’s second choice. (Ginsburg withdrew his nomination over marijuana use, arguably a necessary qualification for Democrat presidential candidates.) Instead of Bork or Ginsburg, we got Anthony Kennedy – the “conservative justice” liberals love to flatter, and the deciding vote in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Why is it that we got Kennedy instead of Bork? Because Bork was borked by just such Democrats as the “pro-life” Tyson proposes to vote for. Let’s hear it for a progressive pro-life attitude!
Whole Woman’s Health is certainly the most extreme pro-abortion decision ever rendered by the Court – and it’s important to look at who, aside from Kennedy, rendered it. We have Stephen Breyer (a Clinton appointee), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a Clinton appointee), Sonia Sotomayor (an Obama appointee), and Elena Kagan (an Obama appointee). One of the reasons the grand pro-life strategy for the Supreme Court hasn’t delivered is that voters like Shea and Tyson have labored to thwart it. Tyson mocks conservatives for electing Republicans in an effort to influence the composition of the Court: supposedly, in conformity with the commonplace definition of insanity often attributed to Albert Einstein, conservatives do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Is Tyson saner because he intends to the same thing over again (that is, vote Democrat) and get the same unacceptable result?
Tyson boils the whole pro-life emphasis on the U.S. Supreme Court down to a single question: can pro-lifers overturn Roe v. Wade? He concludes – reasonably, though not unassailably – that they cannot. Yet is this the only question of importance to the movement that is likely to come before the Court? Whole Woman’s Health shows that it is not. Texas’s perfectly sensible restrictions on abortion mills could have stood without overturning Roe. They didn’t stand because a Democrat-influenced Court is inevitably devoted to expanding Roe. This is a process that will continue if the insouciant Mr. Tyson gets his way. Will the Court overturn state requirements that only a physician can perform surgical abortions? Following the example of California’s legislature, a Democrat Court almost certainly will. Will the Court restrict even further the First Amendment rights of abortion opponents? A Democrat Court will. Will the Court lift restrictions on fetal tissue procurement and sale? Yup – if the Democrats prevail. Mandatory abortions for mothers deemed unfit? Don’t count it out. After all, Hillary is a big admirer of Margaret Sanger.
It’s all coming down that great big pro-abortion highway, folks, and “pro-lifers” Shea and Tyson are, in effect, cheering it on. None of this stuff really matters, after all. What really matters is “focusing on why.” What really matters is “thinking deeper.” What really matters is expanding the welfare state in every way imaginable.
An entertaining deficiency in Tyson’s argued thesis (and Shea’s unargued one) is the assumption that pro-lifers should practice something that can only be called vital utilitarianism. Just as Jeremy Bentham thought ethics should focus on the greatest good for the greatest number, the new “pro-lifers” think our only concern should be the most lives for the greatest number. In this assessment, questions of principle are mere distractions. American law is establishing an expanding right to kill? Who cares? We can’t change that anyhow and shouldn’t even try. The only question is, how can our heroes Shea and Tyson save the most lives? Photos on their websites should let the critical reader know just what unlikely action heroes Shea and Tyson would be. More important, utilitarianism of this sort, even if it’s not explicitly hedonistic, isn’t an ethical theory consistent with the Catholic faith.
Despite their ethical confusion, our new “pro-lifers” insist that the smart and prudent thing for pro-lifers to do is to support every state program for making lives easier, work less necessary, and businesses more likely to collapse. Only that way – and not by maintaining pro-life principles – can we truly call ourselves pro-life.
This is the most offensive part of the argument because it is so hypocritical. Expanding the welfare state too is the same old thing expected to produce new results. Tyson indicates that aborting mothers are women in poverty who feel they don’t have options. But why are there so many single mothers in poverty? Shea and Tyson probably don’t remember Daniel Patrick Moynihan – although, as a liberal Democrat, he would certainly have won their vote. Way back in 1965, Moynihan first began to assert that the expanded welfare state wasn’t good for poor people, and especially for poor blacks. Experience since then has only tended to strengthen his distrust of such expansion. Shea and Tyson like simplifications, so I’ll give it to them simplified. Welfare programs contribute to the breakdown of the family, and the breakdown of the family contributes to the abortion culture. Continue reading
(Reposting this from 2010 in light of Father Z’s comment, with which I agree, that he would prefer to vote for Millard Fillmore’s rotting corpse in preference to Clinton-Kaine.)
Time for my annual rant on Presidents’ Day. I see no reason for a day to honor all presidents. The great presidents, my personal list includes Washington, Jefferson, Polk, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman and Reagan, are deserving of honor, and should not be lumped in with bad, mediocre and justly obscure presidents. One of our worst presidents is also perhaps our most obscure president, Millard Fillmore. Therefore, on a holiday I dislike, I will write about a President who deserves to have something toxic named after him.
Fillmore was born on January 7, 1800, in Moravia, New York, the first of the American presidents to be born after the death of George Washington. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a cloth maker. Not wanting to spend his life making cloth, Fillmore attended the New Hope Academy in New Hope, New York for six months in 1819, and began to study law, that never failing route of social advancement for people who are glib but have no other discernible talent. Admitted to the bar in 1823, he hung out his shingle in East Aurora, New York. In 1826 he married Abigail Powers who he had met at the New Hope Academy. They had two children, Millard Powers Fillmore and Mary Abigail Fillmore. Fillmore prospered as a lawyer and in 1834 he formed a law partnership, Fillmore and Hall, which eventually became one of the most prestigious law firms in western New York.
In 1828 Fillmore took his first step into politics by being elected to the New York state legislature as a member of the anti-Masonic party. The anti-Masonic party came into being to oppose Freemasonry after the disappearance of a William Morgan in 1826 in Batavia, New York. Morgan had left the Freemasons and had made it known that he intended to write a book exposing them. After he disappeared, a public furor erupted, with many people suspecting that Freemasons had murdered Morgan. The anti-Masonic party was the result, with members vowed to oppose the influence of freemasons in society. The party grew in strength as it became a vehicle for protests against social and political ills, and waned in strength as anti-Masonry lost its saliency as a driving issue, with most of the members of the party becoming Whigs, opponents of the Democrat Party established by Andrew Jackson. Continue reading
Father Z would prefer to vote for Millard Fillmore’s rotting corpse than Clinton-Kaine. I completely agree with him:
As I have often said and written, I would vote for the corpse of Millard Fillmore (the last Whig President and an anti-Catholic No Nothing) to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House. And now, with Tim Kaine (can. 915 NOW!) on the dem ticket, I would extend my preference for Fillmore’s cadaver also to Fillmore’s VP’s cadaver… except that Fillmore didn’t have one, that is, he didn’t have a VP.
Fillmore ascended (descended?) to the presidency upon the untimely death of Zachary Taylor (+1850) from a nasty gastric malady after eating, they say, iced milk and raw fruit. (Be wary of milkshakes!) There was a theory that he was assassinated with arsenic or some such. As a matter of fact, in 1991 they would dig him up, Taylor, that is, to test his remains for arsenic. They determined that it wasn’t arsenic. It was probably the gastroenteritis that got him after all. Gastroenteritis got him with the help of his doctors, of course. They bled and blistered him and gave him massive doses of an emetic to induce vomiting called ipecac (I’ll bet that’s as nasty as it sounds), opium, quinine and calomel (aka mercury chloride) which was used as both a laxative and a horticultural fungicide. What could go wrong?
Yes… that paragraph, with its emetics and laxatives and gastric problems, the bitterness of the quinine and the delirium of opiates, surely sets the tone for what follows.
And now to Tim Caine, or, No. 2 (on the ticket).
Spotted at The Stream:
Catholic Church Will Change on Marriage, Kaine Tells Radical LGBT Group
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is predicting that the Roman Catholic Church may eventually change its opposition to gay marriage. [Can’t be done.]
Kaine is a Roman Catholic [catholic] as well as a U.S. senator from Virginia and a former governor of that state. He told the Human Rights Campaign during its national dinner Saturday in Washington that he had changed his mind about gay marriage and that his church may follow suit one day. [Quisling.]
[Watch this! You may need to squint in the sight of his theological brilliance.] “I think it’s going to change because my church also teaches me about a creator who, in the first chapter of Genesis, surveyed the entire world, including mankind, and said, ‘It is very good,’” Kaine said. He then recalled Pope Francis’ remark that “who am I to judge?” in reference to gay priests. [This is little better than word salad. Wasn’t it in Genesis that we read that God created man male and female? Genesis 1 says: “And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply”, Right? God seems to have had a reason for the two sexes thing: increase and multiply. What’s the old phrase? God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. No “increase and multiply” that way. Kaine seems to have fallen into the trap that God made people homosexual and that the homosexuality is one of the things God said was good.]
“I want to add: Who am I to challenge God for the beautiful diversity of the human family? I think we’re supposed to celebrate it, not challenge it,” Kaine said. [As an aside: Kaine was educated by Jesuits. I’m just sayin’.]
While he pledged to fight for increased rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans, Kaine admitted that he had opposed gay marriage until 2005. [What a guy.]
“For a long time while I was battling for LGBT equality, I believed that marriage was something different,” he said. Virginia’s lieutenant governor when state lawmakers pushed for a constitutional amendment to keep marriage between one man and one woman, he recalled speaking to amendment supporters who said they hoped LGBT people would feel so unwelcome that they would move out of Virginia.
“When I heard the proponents describe their motivations, it became clearer to me where I should stand on this,” he said. [THAT’s a reason to change your mind about sodomy?]
Brilliant. Continue reading